KOLKATA: Opposition parties on Sunday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making a "political speech" at Belur Math, saying he has forgotten to differentiate between a spiritual place and a rally out of desperation to implement the "divisive" new Citizenship law.
Claiming that the countrywide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA have cornered the Centre, the TMC, CPI(M) and the Congress said the prime minister should have "spared the holy land of Belur Math from his divisive politics".
"The headquarters of Ramkrishna Mission-Belur Math is known across the world as a holy land. The prime minister should have refrained from making a political speech there. We condemn it."
"He should not have turned Belur Math into a venue of a political rally. There is some decorum in politics and public life, we need to maintain it," Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a programme in Belur Math on Sunday, strongly defended the new citizenship law, saying that the dispute that has arisen over it has made the world aware of the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.
He, however, deplored that a section of the youth is being "misguided" over the CAA, which is aimed at giving and not taking away anybody's citizenship rights.
Reacting to the PM's speech, TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said, "It only proves the desperation of the Centre and that it is on the backfoot after countrywide anti- CAA protests. We condemn such cheap politics at a religious place like Belur Math. The people of India will never accept CAA."
CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim was hopeful that the monks of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission would condemn PM Modi's "political speech" at Belur Math.
Responding to the allegations made by the opposition parties, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said the CPI(M) and Congress should stop "lecturing on right and wrong".
"CPI(M), which is a party of atheists, is lecturing us on Belur Math? The CPI(M) and Congress have no right to lecture us on what is right and wrong," he asserted.
The Ramakrishna Math and Mission on Sunday distanced itself from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech on the CAA, contending that it was a strictly apolitical body which did not respond to "ephemeral" calls.