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Modi bares caste card before key polls in Amethi, heartland

india Updated: May 07, 2014 08:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

A day before Amethi goes to polls along with 63 other seats spread across seven states, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi once against trained his guns on the Gandhi family, invoking his “backward class” status in response to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s “neech rajniti” (low-level politics) remarks aimed at him.

“As I belong to a socially backward caste, they consider my politics of a low level,” Modi said in series of tweets Tuesday morning.

It drew an immediate response from the Congress, which called him a “spinmaster” and “desperate” and said Priyanka’s remarks had no caste reference. She had made the remarks in response to Modi’s speech in Amethi on Monday where he had accused her father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi of insulting a former Andhra Pradesh chief minister.

BJP plays with caste, religion in eastern UP

But on Tuesday, Modi used the phrase “neech rajniti” to project that the Congress was anti-backwards just before 46 seats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — where about one-third of voters are from the backward communities — go to polls in the remaining two phases on May 7 and May 12. The BJP’s performance in these segments could make or break Modi’s ‘Mission 272-plus” as in 2009, the BJP had won only seven of these 46 seats.

Modi assured that “this neech rajneeti” would wipe the tears of thousands and free India from 60 years of misgovernance, asking if being born in a “lower caste family was a sin”. He also tweeted that some people didn’t realize it was due to the sacrifice and hard work of people from the backward communities that the country had reached its present position.

The Congress, which in 2009 won 10 of the 33 seats in UP going to polls in the final phases, said Priyanka had never made any insinuations about Modi’s caste but only referred to the BJP’s “low-level” politics. “That is Narendra Modi. He will give it a spin that has nothing to do with fact,” party leader Kapil Sibal said. Echoing his views, BSP chief Mayawati said, “Modi is playing divisive politics.”

Mayawati dares Modi to come clean on his caste

Caste is expected to play an important role in the 22 seats in UP and Bihar that vote on Wednesday, including Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi, Sultanpur (Varun Gandhi, BJP), Phulpur (Mohamad Kaif, Congress) and Hajipur (Ram Vilas Paswan, LJP). Also going to polls is Seemandhra, which would witness a keen contest between the YSR Congress and BJP ally TDP for 25 Lok Sabha and 175 assembly seats. The Congress has been reduced to a fringe player here — the price for bifurcating Andhra Pradesh.

Around 100 million people are eligible to vote on Wednesday, which will also see elections in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal — where there is heavy deployment of central forces amid charges of large-scale rigging by the Trinamool Congress in the last phase.

Of these 64 seats, the Congress had won 34 in 2009 while the BJP got only four.

Is BJP cagey about last two phases in UP, Bihar?