After being silent on the issue of violence against Dalits by cow vigilantes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally expressed his resentment on August 6 during a New Delhi meet.
“I feel very angry at this Gau Raksha (cow protection) business,” he said. “Some people indulge in anti-social activities in night and turn 'Gau Rakshaks' during the day. They have opened 'shops' in name of cow protection. All states should take stern action against these people.”
The next day, he spoke again on the issue during the launch of the Bhagirath scheme in Telangana. He urged 'true cow protectors' to step forward and report against fake cow vigilantes, “lest the good work being done by you is destroyed by a handful of people for their selfish interests.”
But what caught everyone's attention on social media was his dramatic speech in which he said: “If you want to attack, attack me, not the Dalits. If you want to shoot, shoot me, not the Dalits.”
While many at first lauded his move to finally break the silence on Dalit violence, the air soon turned cynical.
The opposition, all in one voice, called his comments fake and an attempt to bank on Dalit votes.
BSP leader Mayawati said, “They were in slumber like 'Kumbhakarna', but now their eyes have opened because there are Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and some other states and they know it well that Dalits were not going to vote for them. Thus, the Prime Minister's statement was aimed at winning Dalit votes. The statement was 'notorious' and politically motivated.” By Monday, the voices saluting Modi reduced, as suspicions of hidden intentions came to light.
For some, the question was why anyone had to be shot at all, when instead the perpetrators should be booked by law.
@omthanvi Modi is only crying crocodile tears as he fears losing elections in Punjab,UP & Gujarat due to Dalit anger against BJP.— kumar (@kumar69781989) August 8, 2016
shoot me, but not my dalit brothers, says Modi. but what about others who may not be so central to your electoral aims Mr PM?— Hartosh Singh Bal (@HartoshSinghBal) August 8, 2016
Cartoonists were quick to bring out the irony in Modi's statements:
Others called Modi out on his dramatic speech:
I will cut my head and put it in your feet- Smriti Irani— Samar (@Samar_Anarya) August 8, 2016
Shoot me, not my Dalit brothers: PM Modi
Running a government or C-grade cinema?
Modi ji preventing a dalit from being shot, by pushing him aside at the last moment. pic.twitter.com/F4JIaqtkKj— Gabru Tippler (@MrTippler) August 8, 2016