Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a strong warning on Friday to radical elements in the Sangh Parivar to uphold religious freedom of citizens, declaring he has the skills and wherewithal to muzzle them.
Modi has been under attack from the Opposition — as well as foreign leaders — for his silence on communal comments made by some of his ministers, MPs, and Hindu right-wing groups.
“I want to tell those people who make useless and unnecessary (anaap-shanaap) comments based on religion that I know thousands of ways to keep them quiet. But I do not want to waste time on them,” he said in the Lok Sabha.
Modi quoted Guru Nanak to underscore communal harmony, saying Hindus and Muslims must battle against poverty instead of fighting each other.
“The country cannot run outside constitutional proprieties. Nobody can discriminate others on the basis of religion. I want to make it clear that it is my responsibility to run this government in accordance with the Constitution,” he said.
The Prime Minister had told both Houses of Parliament in the winter session that provocative comments like the one made by Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti would not be tolerated.
He reprised his remark on Friday, saying India is the only country where people of all religious backgrounds can prosper. “My government has only one religion, India first. My government has only one holy book—the Constitution. My government has just one work culture: Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.”
The Congress described his speech as wordplay. “There is nothing new in the Prime Minister’s speech. It is all a jugglery of words,” party leader Deepinder Hooda said.