Treat Muslims as your own, not vote banks, Modi tells party invoking Deendayal

NEW DELHI,AMITA SHAH: On a day he addressed around 1,700 BJP leaders here, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spelt out his government’s vision on secularism and inclusive growth as he invoked Jan Sangh ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay to reach out to all sections, including Muslims.

Recalling Upadhyay’s words, Modi said Muslims should not be seen as tools of vote bank but be treated as “your own”. This comes a day after he lashed out at Pakistan in the wake of the Uri attack.

While devoting most of his speech to Upadhyay, Modi reached out various sections–Muslims, Dalits, poor and the downtrodden– as the BJP dedicated the next year to “garib Kalyan”.

Launching the birth centenary celebrations of Upadhyay at the conclusion of the party’s national council meet, Modi focused on his philosophy of “antyodaya (the last man in the queue)” to which he said his government was committed.

“Deendayal Upadhyay said 50 years ago… do not reward but do not rebuke Muslims, empower them. They are not items for the vote market, nor are they object of hate. Treat them as your own,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister’s speech at Kerala’s Kozhikode, which has a significant Muslim population, comes at a time when there is tension in Jammu and Kashmir and the BJP is gearing up for elections in Uttar Pradesh. This is the first time that Modi has spoken out so elaborately on the issue ever since his government came to power.

He said the definition of secularism was being distorted and nationalism was being seen in a negative light. Quoting Upadhyay on ‘sarvajan hitay, sarvajan sukhay (the welfare of all and the happiness of all)” and that “no section of the society should be untouchable” for the party.

Modi said some people did not understand BJP and tried to misrepresent its ideology and that his government’s slogan of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ was not just a political slogan.

“Deendayal Upadhaya kehte the agar sabhi ko barabari mein lana hain toh upar ke logo ko jhukar apne haath vanchit logo tak badhane hain (Deendayal Upadhyaya used to say that if equality has to be achieved among all then the people on top have to bend down and extend their support to those who are neglected),” Modi said.

Modi also called for electoral reforms saying it was required to strengthen democracy. “I think this is time to bring about electoral reforms. In the centenary year of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, we can organise seminars across the country on electoral reforms…. At least we should start brainstorming the issue, and we will see what amrit (nectar) will come out of this churning,” he said. Modi had strongly backed simultaneous elections at the centre and states.

He said that even members from other political parties were asking him to bring about electoral reforms, but it would be better if changes emerged after thorough brainstorming.

The BJP issued a resolution committing itself to the ideas of Upadhyay, and pledging to end all social disparities and linking backward classes, farmers, Dalits and Tribal sections of societ with the mainstream of development. “To establish an egalitarian society and to bring the SCs and STs into the mainstream of development, the BJP will promote sense of social harmony this year so that social justice could be rendered to the marginalised sections. BJP continues to strive as per the ideas of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay to ensure economic, cultural and spiritual freedom,” it said.