BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s close aide and party in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Amit Shah has stirred a major controversy by allegedly remarking that the Lok Sabha polls are “an opportunity to take revenge for the insult” of communal riots in Muzaffarnagar.
According to reports, Shah made the remarks during a meeting attended by members of the dominant “Jat” community at a village in Shamli district, not far from Muzaffarnagar that witnessed widespread riots last September. The violence claimed 62 lives and displaced thousands. Several villages in Shamli had also witnessed violence.
“It is a question of honour for us... The elections have given you an opportunity to take revenge for the insult inflicted on us. Those who had committed injustice must be taught a lesson,” Shah reportedly said at the meeting late on Thursday night.
The BJP leader was accompanied by the party’s local legislator Suresh Rana, an accused in the riots. Rana had been arrested on charges of inciting communal passion at a panchayat during the riots. He is out on bail. Rana also reportedly said the Samajwadi Party (SP) government in Uttar Pradesh would fall the moment Narendra Modi became prime minister.
Shah made an almost identical remark at a Dalit community meeting at Bijnore district, about 50 km from Muzaffarnagar, on Friday, where he raised the issue of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) giving ticket to riot-accused Kadir Rana from the Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha constituency.
“Mayawati has fielded more Muslim candidates than Dalits. She has preferred those who had humiliated us in our own land and fielded Dalits only from reserved constituencies,” he said at the meeting, exhorting Dalits to support the BJP, which alone, he said, could restore their honour.
The BJP leader from Gujarat held similar meetings with members of other communities, where he repeated his assertions, said reports.
Shah’s remarks were strongly criticised by SP, Congress and BSP leaders. “The BJP stands exposed. This has proved that the BJP wants to incite passion and polarise voters along communal lines,” said Congress leader Reeta Bahuguna Joshi.
SP’s Rajendra Chaudhary also decried the remarks.
The Congress on Saturday moved the EC demanding lodging of an FIR and arrest of Shah for making a “provocative hate speech” in Muzaffarnagar.
The party also urged the poll panel to de-recognise the BJP and take action against Modi for violation of the poll code, alleging that Modi and his aides were attempting to play the “2002 communal game of Gujarat” all over the country in the run-up to the general election.