Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he is devoted to the development of Dalits and the poor, blaming some “self-appointed guardians” of the society for levelling baseless allegations against his government.
In an interview to CNN-News 18 to be aired on Friday evening, the Prime Minister said people who want to fuel tension did not like his stand against “politics of social imbalance” and were giving “political tones to social problems”.
His remarks came against the backdrop of a raging controversy over attacks against Muslims and Dalits on suspicion of slaughtering cows or smuggling beef -- banned in several Indian states. Cows are revered animals for Hindus.
The thrashing of four Dalit youth, who were skinning a dead cow in Gujarat’s Una, by self-styled vigilantes in July triggered a wave of protests, cornering Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in his home state ahead of next year’s state elections. Modi broke his silence on the issue last month and condemned the so-called cow protectors .
“All those who have fed this country the poison of caste divide have destroyed this country,” Modi said, and added the Indian society has some deeply rooted imbalance.
In the face of criticism over alleged ‘intolerance’ in his rule, the PM said the self-appointed guardians did not like that “Modi is with the Dalits. That Modi devotes himself to tribals…”
“And this is why they are levelling baseless allegations.”
Modi said the BJP will fight the upcoming state elections, including that in Uttar Pradesh, on development agenda.
“Our focus will be welfare of farmers, villages, jobs for the youth and we will stay committed to the cause of social justice. Our focus will be to maintain peace, unity and brotherhood in our country.”
The opposition Congress party has time and again accused the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, which won a landslide verdict in the 2014 general elections on Modi’s development promises, of being pro-industrialist and anti-farmer.
“There was no atmosphere of vote-bank politics in last general elections, there was an atmosphere of development politics,” Modi reiterated.
Modi, who in 2014 promised to user in ‘achche din’, said: “India’s economy has seen off the worst and the government didn’t want to talk shortcuts to give it an artificial sugar rush.”