Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday opened up on the issue of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s viewpoint with regard to Muslims. Echoing party ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s thoughts on the community, Modi said they should neither be “rewarded” nor “shunned”, but they should be “cleansed” and “considered our own.”
“Musalman ka na puraskar karen, na tiraskar karen, unka parishkar karen. Vote ki mandi ka maal na manen, na ghrina ki vastu, unhe apna samjhen (Neither reward the Muslims, nor shun them, but cleanse them. Do not consider them goods for sale in the vote market, neither treat them with hatred, but consider them your own),” Modi said addressing the concluding session of the three-day national council meeting of the BJP in Kozhikode.
The prime minister was quoting what Upadhyay had said 50 years ago to make clear the party’s viewpoint on Muslims. Modi said many people made the mistake of misunderstanding the BJP and that a distorted definition of secularism was in circulation.
“50 years ago, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay had kept this idea before us. It is not an election slogan for us, but we sincerely believe in the uplift of dalits, the backwards, the downtrodden, the exploited and the farmers. It is a sincere commitment from us,” Modi said.
“Sarv jan sukhaye, sarv jan hitaye is what he would say. No part of the society should be untouchable for us,” he said.
Modi said the holding of the BJP meet in Kozhikode marked a return to its roots in the form of reaffirmation of the ideas of Upadhyay, who was elected president of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the forerunner of the party, in the northern Kerala city 50 years ago. The meeting also marked the commencement of the celebrations of Upadhyay’s birth centenary.
Upadhyay’s mantra, Modi said, was about the uplift of the downtrodden, which is known as Antyodaya. He then declared that the slogan for the party and the BJP governments at the Centre and in the states would be Garib Kalyan.
Garib Kalyan or welfare of the poor has been the focus of the national council meeting, marking a reorientation of the politics of the BJP which has traditionally been seen as a party of the urban and the middle class.
Modi spoke about the ethos of Antyodaya, which is working for the person who is on the last rung of the society. “Bharat Mata will not progress if any state or region remains under-developed and backward,” he said.
The party has resolved that in the next one year, its programmes as well those of the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the states will focus on implementing the pro-poor schemes of the government.
The Modi government has also formed a committee to commemorate the birth centenary of Upadhyay. “When I was elected the leader of the NDA in the Central Hall, I had said that the government would be dedicated to working for the poor,” he said. He also referred to the name of the road where his official residence is located being changed from Race Course Road to Lok Kalyan Marg, saying the new name was reflective of Upadhyay’s philosophy.
Talking about the journey of the BJP from the time Upadhyay was elected president of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh in 1967, he said if the Jan Sangh had been like a lamp, the BJP was like the lotus which encapsulates the energy of the sun by absorbing its rays.
Mindful of the location of the meeting, Modi made it a point to condemn the incidents of violence against workers of the BJP and the RSS allegedly perpetrated by the Left. “The perpetrators of these atrocities will not be spared. We will expose them in a democratic manner,” he said.