Allahabad/Lucknow: Asaduddin Owaisi, President of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Hyderabad MP, invoked 2002 Gujarat riots to slam Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "Qabristan" and "Electricity during Ramzan" remarks made during a rally.
"Was Gujarat celebrating Ramzan or Diwali when communal riots took place in the state in 2002 when he was the chief Minister?" Owaisi asked while addressing a rally for AIMIM candidate contesting the election of the Allahabad (South) assembly constituency.
"The Prime Minister has triggered the debate over burial grounds versus cremation grounds. Does he realise that demonetisation has claimed lives of close to 150 people. These people had to reach shamshan (crematoriums) or Qabristan (graveyards) due to note ban," the Hyderabad MP said.
Owaisi also alleged that Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav are "two faces of the same coin" as "400 riots have taken place in Uttar Pradesh the last five years".
"As many as 400 riots have taken place in the last five years, including in Muzaffarnagar even though the SP government had made a budgetary allocation of Rs 16,000 crore for the police," the AIMIM chief said.
"There is no difference between Modi and Akhilesh. Both are two faces of the same coin. One may be called the big brother and the other one the little brother", Owaisi said.
"My fight is not against any religion. My fight has been and will remain against forces like the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, Modi and the Sangh.
"Secularism has been reduced to a mere slogan which political parties use to hoodwink the poor people and get their votes," he alleged.
Earlier in the day, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Singh Yadav returned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Qabristan' remarks with 'Gujarat donkeys' jibe, urging Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan not to campaing for them.
Without naming anyone, Akhilesh Yadav referred to an ad in which Amitabh Bachchan - whose wife Jaya Bachchan is a Samajwadi Party Member of Parliament - gives viewers a glimpse of a "Wild Ass Sanctuary" near Ahmedabad. The 74-year-old star has filmed a series of such ads as brand ambassador of Gujarat tourism.
"We will tell the mahanayak, don't campaign for donkeys. Have you ever heard of campaigning for donkeys? Gujarat's people are doing campaigns for donkeys...then they accuse me of working only for Qabristan (graveyard...)," said the 43-year-old Chief Minister.
Akhilesh Yadav was responding to Primie Minister Modi's speech delivered in Fatehpur where he said, “Ramzan me bijli athi hai tho Diwali me bhi ani chahiye; Bhedbhav nhi hona chahiye (If there is electricity during Ramadan then it must be available during Diwali too; there shouldn’t be any discrimination)” the prime minister added.
He said, “Gaon me Qabristan banta hai to shamshaan bhi banna chahiye (If there is a ‘Qabaristaan’ (graveyard), there should be a ‘shamshaan’ (cremation ground) too.”
Akhilesh also challenged Modi to swear by river Ganga and say the state government is not supplying uniterrupted power in Varanasi - the city represented by the prime minister in the parliament.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known for playing communal politics from the beginning of his political career and accused of staging riots for political gains, changed the color some times before 2014 General Elections and started chanting 'development' aka 'sab ka saath sab ka vikaas'.
He chanted now exposed 'sab ka saath sab ka vikaas' slogan in rallies even as he gave free hand to some leaders of his own party to spew venom against the minorities, especially the Muslims.
Modi continued with his "development agenda" even in Delhi and Bihar - the two states where he tasted humiliating defeats. Despite defeats in Delhi and Bihar he thought his "development agenda" will help him sail through the tough Uttar Pradesh electoral battle.
However, perhaps sensing the mood of voters, seemingly angry over the government especially because of note ban, the BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, raised triple talaq issue - for one to seek support of Muslim women, and the other an "angry reactions" from the Muslim community which could be later used to polarise voters.
When raising triple talaq issue failed to provoke Muslims, the Prime Minister, wittingly or unwittingly, delivered a speech at an election rally in Fatehpur which the opposition says exposes the "hateful" and "divisive" politics.
“Seeing everything through the prism of caste and community is the disease of the BJP. The prime minister’s claim of sab ke saath sab ka vikas is heartless and hollow. The prime minister should face legal proceedings for hate crimes", Welfare Party of India said in a statement.
"The BJP labelling others pseudo-secular couldn't find even a single Muslim candidate out of 384 fielded for 403 assembly seats of UP. Fielding one community against the other and promoting division and polarization will not save the BJP from the ire of the public,” the party said.
Prime Minister Modi and BJP leaders earlier had raised triple talaq issue many times in Uttar Pradesh. While the prime minister said 'triple talaq' is injustice to women, other BJP leaders, including party president Amit Shah and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, called for a ban.
Meanwhile, the Congress too said it will approach the Election Commission (EC) against Narendra Modi's "controversial" remarks of "graveyard and cremation ground" during the Fatehpur rally.
The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that no one can seek votes in name of religion, caste or region.
The remarks also received some hard reactions from Twitter users.
"Talking about everything Kabrastan, shamshan, diwali, ramzan... Just don't ask him to talk about demonetisation", Akash Soni, commented on twitter.
"Eid aur holi nahi, public ko 365 days electric do", Fazlur Rehman, another Twitter user, said.
"70 odd BJP MP's are doing what? MODI is blabbering these days and no one takes him seriously", another comment posted on twitter said.
"Saugandh Ram ki khate hain, shamshaan wahin banayenge" ~ Jai Shree Ram", a sarcastic Prerna Bakshi reacted on Twitter.