Launching a scathing attack on the Congress for seeking to pocket the credit of empowering Dalits, Narendra Modi on Monday accused the Gandhi family of stopping implementation of rights given by BR Ambedkar and even "snatching" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's right of free speech.
On the 123rd birth anniversary of architect of the Indian Constitution Ambedkar, the BJP leader slammed Congress for "insulting him" and ignoring the plight of Dalits and backwards in the country.
"It is unfortunate that the Gandhi family has stopped the implementation of rights given by Ambedkar. You are now taking credit for giving rights and enacting laws but Soniaji and Shehzaadeji (Rahul Gandhi), can you tell me who has snatched Prime Minister's right of free speech. The country wants to know which lock you have put on Manmohan Singh's mouth," he said.
Modi's comments come against the backdrop of revelations made by former PM media adviser Sanjaya Baru in his book that suggest that Sonia Gandhi's instructions were sought for clearing all files and decisions were taken by her.
Reaching out to the Dalits, Modi said Rahul Gandhi was "insulting the chief architect of the Constitution and the god of Dalits by taking credits for giving rights and enacting laws in the country."
"Had Ambedkar not been there, then someone like me would not have been standing before you," he said and even slammed Jawahar Lal Nehru for refusing to buy even 100 copies of a book written by Ambedkar on Lord Buddha, saying the first prime minister of the country had a "poisoned mind" against Ambedkar.
Modi said the Congress governments did "maximum insult" to the chief architect of the Indian Constitution and did not give him Bharat Ratna which was given by a BJP-backed government soon after it came to power.
"Three members of the family received Bharat Ratna immediately after their deaths but Parliament did not even have a portrait of Ambedkar till the NDA government put it there," Modi said.
"Ambedkar spent his whole life for the uplift of Dalits and backward classes. He was instrumental in creating our constitution. But, it is our misfortune that such a 'Dalit messiah' is always ignored by Congress leaders," said Modi in Gandhinagar after paying homage to Ambedkar.
"If someone claims that he has given any right or law for the country, then he is insulting Ambedkar. Those who do not know the Constitution, they are today taking credit for these things due to political reasons," the Gujarat chief minister said referring to Rahul's various speeches.
Highlighting the alleged plight of Dalits in the country, the BJP prime ministerial candidate attacked the Congress, SP and BSP governments in Uttar Pradesh for "crimes against Dalits."
He cited statistics suggesting that every week 13 Dalits are killed, six are kidnapped, 21 are raped and five homes are torched.
"Even after 60 years of independence, 70% of Dalit women are illiterate. Is this the kind of government you want," Modi said.
Accusing the Centre of siphoning off coal, he said coal was kept out of the house and even beggars don't steal coal but "this Delhi government has stolen coal as well."