The Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Saturday said he believed the Muslim community should get better access to education and that he did not believe in wearing skullcaps just to hoodwink the people.
BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi waves to the crowd assembled for his road show prior to filing his nomination papers at Vadodara. (HT Photo)
“I believe in respecting traditions of all religions. But at the same time, I have to respect my own tradition. I can't hoodwink people by wearing such skullcaps… However, I believe in taking action against those who show disrespect to other's caps,” Modi told India TV in an interview.
The BJP’s PM nominee said the Muslims would benefit from development, not by gimmicks.
“I believe their children should get better educations. They should have a Koran in one hand and a computer in the other hand,” he told the TV channel.
Modi denied the allegations of creating hype through an aggressive PR campaign and said those at the Centre were “under the influence of black magic” and such charges against him showed stunted thinking. He said he never hired an American PR agency for promotion.
He challenged the claims of the Congress that the BJP was spending Rs. 10,000 crore on publicity by saying they should write to the Election Commission and the Enforcement Directorate for a probe. "Since they don't do anything, I'm giving them an idea of doing some work. Let them fully investigate it. Let Anand Sharma do it as fast as possible. If there is any objection from EC, I'm willing to write to the EC to let them do it (probe against me)."
On his controversial answer in an interview with a foreign media person in context of killing of Muslims in Gujarat riots that "It pains even when a puppy comes under my car", Modi said: "In our country we say it pains even if an ant dies. These are proverbs. This should not be interpreted otherwise.
"And you should know that the person who had taken my interview, despite being a foreigner, had tweeted that I did not mean anything like that. But the news traders, and I am not talking about media, used this to sell their stuff."
The Gujarat chief minister also sought to dispel the impression that he had become the hub of the party and that other senior leaders were being relegated to the background, saying the BJP worked as a team.
Dismissing the suggestion as "not true" that BJP was getting centred around him, Modi said: "BJP is a huge organisation. It works in that structure. There is a galaxy of leaders who are equally competent. During elections we have to set a goal and prioritize issues. Even for this there is a committee of which Modi is not a part.
"Previously we worked under Atalji's (Bihari Vajpayee) guidance. Then we worked under (LK) Advaniji, Harshvardhan in Delhi, Shivraj Singh (Chouhan) in MP (Madhya Pradesh) and in Rajasthan we worked under Vasundhara Raje.
"So responsibilities are distributed according to the party's goal. Right now I have been given this role and I have to do what the party has asked me to do. I am a worker of the party. We are a team."
He described as an "achievement" Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's observation that he can even sell combs to bald people. "I used to sell tea. I never sold combs but the information that I can do it has reached them, is sort of achievement for me," said Modi