In his first direct reference to the lynching of a Muslim man at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has termed the incident dukhad [saddening]. But he questioned the logic behind blaming the Centre for it.
Mr. Modi also termed undesirable the opposition to Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai by the Shiv Sena, but sought to know how the Centre was responsible for it.
“The Dadri incident or the opposition to Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s concert are sad and undesirable. But what is the role of the Central government in these incidents,” Mr. Modi asked.
He was, however, quick to question the Opposition for blaming the Centre, accusing it of polarising communities and treating the minorities as votebanks.
“Such controversies have happened in the past too. The BJP has always opposed pseudo-secularism. Today, when we are faced with such an unfortunate malady, the same debate has resurfaced. This can only be resolved through discussions,” he said.
However, Mr. Modi came under attack not just from the Congress but also the Shiv Sena, with which the BJP’s terms have plumbed to a new low, though ironically on opposite grounds.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut called his statement unfortunate, claiming that the world knew Mr. Modi through Godhra and “for the same reason we respect him.” “If the Prime Minister has made such a statement, it is really unfortunate. The Narendra Modi that the world knows is by Godhra; for the same reason we respect him. If the same Narendra Modi has called the controversy surrounding Ghulam Ali sad, it is unfortunate. I feel this is the statement of the country’s Prime Minister, not of Narendra Modi,” Mr. Raut told ANI.
The Congress called Mr. Modi’s statement “inappropriate” and criticised him for “trivialising” issues.
“I think the unfortunate lynching and the death of the gentleman in Dadri is symbolic of the systematic decay in our social fabric that is being accentuated by the new government,” Congress leader Sachin Pilot told journalists. “You can’t have divisive forces become so strong that they overcome all ethos of our cultural heritage, of our history, of our societal integrity.”
Regarding the cancellation of Mr. Ali’s concert and the attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni by Sena activists, Mr. Pilot said the BJP was struggling to keep its allies under check, and as a result, the Prime Minister is brushing aside his responsibility of providing equal rights and security to people .
The Sena and the Congress faulted Modi for his statement, albeit on different grounds.