At Kochi meeting of SC group, Narendra Modi says he is victim of untouchability

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Feb 11 2014, 15:21pm hrs
Addressing a huge meeting of a prominent Scheduled Caste organisation in Kochi, Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Sunday called himself a victim of untouchability.

Noting the absence of the Kochi Mayor, a Congress leader, at the meeting despite his name being in the invitation letter, he said: Narendra Modi is living in this society as a victim of untouchability.

Modi was inaugurating the centenary celebrations of Kayal Sammelan (or lake meeting), organised by the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS). A century back, Dalits in Kochi had held a meeting on a flotilla in the Kerala backwaters when the then rulers did not permit the backwards to organise it on land.

In the last century, Modi said, those who had brought about change in the country were those who belonged to backward communities or those who had dedicated their lives to Dalits. Recounting his own humble origins, he said his mother used to clean utensils in their neighbourhood.

He had taken on untouchability during his school days by scripting and acting in a mono act, he said. When he became the chief minister, Modi added, he had asked the daughter of the senior-most Scheduled Caste peon in government service to conduct the pooja before he moved into the official bungalow.

You may be keen to know whom we sent to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in the recent elections. One member was from the Scheduled Castes and the other was from the fishermen community.

Modi added: You can mark my word that the coming decade would be of the backward communities.

Making an indirect attack on the Gandhi family, Modi said that certain people think that all that had happened in the country in the past 60 years was due to one family. Normally, politicians face the charge of working for their own familys interests. However, I have not done anything for my family. But if I come to power in 2014, I want to do something for my family. That family will not be the one which gave birth for me. Instead, it will be this backward community.

Pointing to the crowd in front of him, he added: This is my family. I was born in this family, I was brought up in this family.

He also accused the Congress of using backward communities to play vote bank politics. That has provoked villages to fight against cities. Subsequently, we became disorganised. This is what we have seen in 60 years.

They were experts in harvesting poison, Modi added, in a veiled reference to Sonia Gandhis zehar ki kheti remark against the BJP.

Backward Ezhava Hindu leader and general secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam Vellappally Nateshan, who addressed the meeting, asked whether it was appropriate to consider Modi an untouchable. When you assume power in Delhi, you should not forget these backwards who have supported you. You should not deny the backwards their rights, Nateshan said.

The Ezhavas are mainly a Left vote bank in Kerala.

Later, addressing a massive rally in Thiruvananthapuram, Modi said Kerala should opt for the third alternative instead of the Congress and Left which, he said, had hurt the state. In Keralas bi-polar politics, the BJP is yet to win a seat to the state Assembly or Lok Sabha.

In his one-hour speech, Modi talked of an unholy alliance between the Congress and CPM on issues. You have seen the misrule of the UDF and the wrong policies of the LDF. Communists do not believe in democracy and they are looking for instability. For them, democracy means grabbing. The Communists very well know that people wont accept them. Hence they come with the drama of third front before every election, said Modi.

Modi also blamed the UDF and LDF for unemployment, and for Kerala youths migrating for jobs. Referring to the commissioning of an LNG project in Kerala a decade after a similar facility become functional in Gujarat, he said, it shows the difference between a government that is accountable to the people and a government that is not.

Bishops meet Modi

Two senior Orthodox Bishops Thomas Mar Athanasius and Geevarghese Mar Yulios, who have interests in Gujarat, met Narendra Modi during his Kerala visit Sunday. The BJP state leadership had said Modi would meet bishops representing various churches. The Catholic Bishops, who are attending a meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, stayed away. Athanasius, who has several schools in Gujarat, said he would be happy to see Modi as prime minister. We know him as an able administrator in Gujarat. At the same time, we have not met Modi as representatives of the Church, said the bishop.