Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde's letter directing chief ministers to be cautious while dealing with criminal suspects from the minority community amounted to vote bank politics and an attack on India's federal structure, BJP leader Narendra Modi said here Sunday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat chief minister was speaking at a pre-election rally at Merces village on the outskirts of Panaji.
"He (Shinde) says if you arrest criminals, then you make sure that Muslims are not arrested? Does a criminal have religion? Will criminality be decided on basis of religion," Modi said in his trademark rhetorical style, asking the audience to yell out responses to the questions.
After writing the letter to all chief ministers in September, Shinde last week said in New Delhi that he would write a similar letter to the chief ministers again asking them to ensure that minority community members were not unfairly treated like criminals.
"Law should be enforced in such a way that if someone is not guilty, then he should get justice. There should be no injustice because of religion," Modi said.
Claiming that law and order was a state subject, Modi said that by writing the letter on the minority issue, Shinde was attacking India's federal structure.
"Law and order is a state subject. Mr. Shinde, you have no right to teach lessons in law and order sitting in Delhi. It is a direct attack on India's federal structure," Modi said.
Takes a swipe at media
Modi took a potshot at the media, accusing it of being obsessed with the politics in Delhi.
Lauding Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for his "simplicity", Modi said Parrikar would have been the apple of the eye had he been a part of Delhi's political scene.
"Imagine if Parrikar was in Delhi. All of India would know how simple and an educated person he is. But the media cannot see beyond Delhi," the Gujarat chief minister said.
The comment appeared to be a veiled reference to the media-savvy Aam Aadmi Party and to the media's obsession with the party and its newly-formed Delhi government.
Continuing his attack on the media, Modi said that despite the media's ire against him, he still managed to win the hearts of the people.
"For years now, I could never seem to win on TV or in print news. But I have won in the hearts of the people. People will have to decide whether they need a face on TV or a guy with feet on the ground to lead them," Modi said.