The CPI(M) today attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “graveyard, cremation ground” remarks, alleging it was a “straightforward” appeal aimed at “communal polarisation” of voters in Uttar Pradesh. “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,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in an interaction with PTI journalists here. Addressing a poll rally in Fatehpur in UP yesterday, Modi had stressed that there should be “no discrimination on the basis of caste and religion” and asserted that inclusive growth was his government’s mantra.
“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),” Modi had said. Yechury also drew a comparison between Modi and former prime minister and BJP veteran Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He said Vajpayee was “more of a democrat” while Modi was “more of an autocrat”.
Yechury alleged that the prime minister was leading BJP’s “fork-tongued” campaign for the UP assembly polls, in which, while Modi was talking about farmers’ debt waivers, other BJP leaders at the same time harped on Ram temple issue. “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,” he alleged.
To a question whether such a tactic will backfire on BJP, he said “I hope so.” Targeting Modi further, Yechury observed that Vajpayee, who led the first NDA government between 1998 and 2004, was “very different” from Modi at “various levels”. Unlike Modi, Vajpayee “never shied away from being accountable to Parliament” and kept the hardcore Hindutva agenda of right wing organisations on the backburner. Under the current regime, the Hindutva agenda of RSS is being reflected at various levels, Yechury said, citing issues like triple talaq, Uniform Civil Code and Article 370. Vajpayee also came in for praise from Yechury for the way he handled the Kashmir issue when he was at the helm of the country’s affairs.
“The slogan of ‘Insaniyat (humanity), Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat (democracy)’ Vajpayee gave …even today Kashmiris talk about it,” he said. Accusing the Modi government of not taking confidence building measures, despite announcing so, in Kashmir to tackle the alienation of people there, Yechury expressed apprehension that lack of such steps will lead to Kashmiris losing faith in the government’s commitment towards their welfare. In this context, Yechury said, “Vajpayee in comparison was more of a democrat and Mr Modi in comparison is more of an autocrat.