In a departure from flaunting Indian Muslims as a political bulwark against Pakistan, the Modi government has accused the country’s Muslims of backing Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, reports said Today.
Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar told a press conference to attack former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for giving Pakistan a “handle” to target India at the United Nations over the situation in Kashmir by having made comments critical of the government policy, saying he did so to woo his largely Muslim southern constituency.
“Rahul Gandhi said that things in Jammu and Kashmir were going wrong, there were reports of people dying in J&K. You were wrong, Rahul Gandhi. Things are fine in J&K, there is no violence as you imagined. People haven’t died. Pakistan used his remarks. The Pakistani application to the UN mentions remarks made by Rahul Gandhi. The application states that acts of violence have been acknowledged by mainstream party leaders such as Rahul Gandhi,” Mr Javadekar said.
While attacking Mr Gandhi, Mr Javadekar also made a communal dig at Indian Muslims, using “Wayanad” — Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala — as a dog whistle, The Wire online news portal said.
The official Indian policy had so far projected Indian Muslims as loyal to the country, citing Muslim soldier Havildar Abdul Hameed who died in the 1965 war as a brave symbol of Indian unity.
Mr Javadekar said Mr Gandhi had made critical remarks about Kashmir because of “vote bank” politics and wondered whether his “mindset” was a result of his election from a new constituency. Mr Gandhi had contested from both his traditional seat Amethi, from where he had lost to Smriti Irani, and Wayanad, a seat which he had won with a huge margin.
“Wayanad se jeete toh soch bhi badli,” Mr Javadekar said. When reporters asked him what he meant by it, he said his comments were not on the constituency but its representative.
However, the minister did not clarify how becoming a representative of Wayanad would compel Mr Gandhi to give a “handle” to Pakistan against India, The Wire said.
“Did the BJP minister mean to say that Amethi and Wayanad were different when it came to having a view of Kashmir? Or did he mean that people of north-India’s Amethi were more patriotic than those in south India’s Wayanad?”
The minister refused to clarify any of these doubts when reporters prodded him over his remark.
However, his allegation that the MP of Muslim-majority Wayanad was driven by “vote bank politics” to give Pakistan a “handle” against India at the UN was as clear a statement as any that the BJP believes Muslim citizens favour Pakistan over India.
Mr Javadekar’s communal jibe is not the first from the BJP’s stable. At an election speech at Wardha, Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also made a sarcastic reference to the fact that Muslims are in a majority in Wayanad.
He openly sought votes on the basis of religion. While criticising the Congress for falsely propagating the idea of “Hindu terror”, the prime minister questioned Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from Kerala’s Wayanad. “The Hindu community is aware now. It is evident from the fact that [Rahul Gandhi] has to contest a seat where the minority is majority,” he said.