The PM Narendra Modi driven Kabristan row is refusing to die as various Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders keep breathing new life into it as the Uttar Pradesh elections enter the last 2 phases. At an election rally on Chhatrapati Shivaji’s birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a speech in Fatehpur when he said, “Agar kabristan me bijli hai to shamshaan me bhi honi chahiye. Agar Ramzan mein bijli aati hai, to Diwali me bhi aani chahiye, bhedbhav nahi hona chahiye (If there is electricity in the graveyard and during Ramzan, it must also be available in a crematorium and during Diwali. There should be no discrimination)”. While PM Modi had added the ‘no discrimination’ part at the end, the same kind of diplomacy is not being adhered to by the rest of the BJP leaders. The latest to jump onto the Hindu-Muslim controversy is firebrand BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj, MP from Unnao, who highlighted the issue of paucity of land and the fact that the Hindus do not need space for graves while Muslim demands are rising.
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He said that if Hindus start demanding space in similar fashion, then there are, “2-2.5 cr sadhu hain, sabki samadhi lage to kitni zameen jayegi (there are 2-2.5 cr sadhus in the country, just imagine how much land would be required if they asked for a mausoleum of their own.” Not wishing to end the matter there and to highlight the rising population of Muslims, Maharaj goes on to say, “20 crore Muslims hain, sabko kabr chahiye Hindustan mein jagah kahan milegi (there are 20 cr Muslims, all want a grave; where will space be found in India).
Maharaj added to the controversy by saying that there should be no need to bury the dead. He said, “Chaahe naam kabristan ho, chaahe shamshan ho, daah hona chahiye, kisi ko gaadne ki aveshyakta nahin hai.”
In his reaction to PM Modi’s speech on Monday, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “It is a straightforward appeal, an effort for communal polarisation. The talk about kabristan (graveyard) and cremation, Holi and Eid, Diwali and Ramzan…the counter- posing (of these words) itself is an appeal to communal sentiments.” He added, “You now have these fork-tongued speeches… there is this one angle of economy and debt waiver and, on the other, straightforward appeal for communal polarisation. The BJP has perfected the tactic.”