Narendra Modi with others waves during the 'Kaayal Sammelanam ' held at Marine Drive in Kochi on Sunday | PTI
Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday accused the Congress of following a divide and rule policy for the last 60 years and recalled the setting up of a Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities by its government as an instrument to "sow the seeds of poison".
Wooing the Dalits and backward classes at a public meeting here, Modi also alleged there has been a "conspiracy" to snatch the rights given to the community by B R Ambedkar. Modi's remarks came against the backdrop of a suggestion by Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi for ending caste-based reservation.
Alleging that Congress had sought to make gains by dividing the society by sowing 'poisonous seeds", he said the dalits, adivasis and backward classes would have a decisive say if his party was voted to power. There would be a "change of government" at the Centre within 100 days after which this would be brought to an end, he added.
"For the past 60 years, people have indulged in vote bank politics to divide and rule. This has led to our division and fragmentation. They are experts in zeher ki kheti. The Ranganath Mishra Commission was set up to sow the seeds of poison," he told the meeting organised by the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS), an outfit of a prominent Scheduled Caste community.
The Ranganath Misra Commission was constituted by the UPA government on October 29. 2004 to look into various issues related to Linguistic and Religious minorities. In its report submitted to the Government on May 21, 2007, the Commission among other things recommended 10 per cent of jobs for Muslims and five per cent for other minorities in government services and seats in educational institutions for minorities.
On a visit to Karnataka last week, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had launched an attack on the opposition BJP — accusing it of indulging in 'zeher ki kheti' (sowing seeds of poison) to attain power.
'Victim of Untouchability'
Modi called himself "victim of untouchability", saying Cochin city mayor Tony Chammany did not attend the meeting though his name was among those listed on the invitation card.
Referring to the role played by eminent leaders like Ayankali and Babasaheb Ambedker, who fought casteism and untouchability, Modi said "next 10 years is going to be yours" amidst loud cheers from the crowd.
Asking the people to fight superstition and give maximum education to their children, Modi said these were the two main things required for development.
Ambedker's slogan of "education, unity and struggle" was very valid now, he said, adding, "getting justice is not begging, but is the right of every citizen".
Significant presence at the function was the leader of Sree Narayana Paripalana Saghan, an organisation of powerful Ezhava community, Vellapalli Natesan.
Natesan in his address praised Modi's development work at Gujarat and said "Modi, who came from a backward community, proved that persons from backward also could provide a good governance."