Full text and video of the AICC Press Conference by Kapil Sibal on 9th Oct 2015
Mr. Prime Minister, in your Independence Day speech in 2014, you called for a 10 year moratorium on communal issues. Have you fulfilled that promise?
Mr. Prime Minister, what happened in Dadri was not just an attack on Mohammad Akhlaq, it was an attack on the Constitution of India, the fundamentals of democracy, our liberal traditions, our cultural diversity, the spirit of tolerance and finally on the soul of India. We condemn it and will leave no stone unturned to fight it.
The forces that killed Pansare, Dhabolkar and Kalburgi; the forces that beat up an MLA in the Legislative Assembly in Jammu & Kashmir; the forces that didn’t allow Ghulam Ali to perform in Mumbai; that forced couples out of a hotel and invaded their privacy are the same that brutally murdered Mohammed Akhlaq.
The mind-set behind these forces sow the seeds of hatred and then seek to profit for the ensuing harvest of violence.
We wish to ask Prime Minister Modi why before every election the communal temperature rises above boiling point. Is it because the BJP wishes to polarize the polity to garner votes or is it just a coincidence? The manner in which Mohammad Akhlaq was targeted was not a fight between Hindus and Muslims as you termed it in your recent speech in Nawada on October 8, 2015 when you said “……Hindus must decide whether they want to fight Muslims or poverty and Muslims must decide whether they want to fight Hindus or poverty”.
Mr. Prime Minister, do you think what happened in Dadri was a fight between the Hindus and Muslims? It was a premeditated, meticulously conspired stratagem to create an environment of fear; to divide the polity for the BJP to gain political capital in Bihar. You should not have waited for 9 days to make a non-statement. Your words were insensitive since they did not take note of the forces of hate behind the Dadri lynching. You said in Nawada that “there is a conspiracy that Modi never shows his face again”. Who can prevent Prime Minister Modi from showing his face 24 x 7 whether we like it or not. The incident should make our heads hang in shame. You should have said publicly “I can’t show my face to my people as this happened under my nose and my own Home Minister calls it “an unfortunate incident” and to make matters worse, the Home Minister was insensitive enough to say “it is not proper to give communal colour to it”. Mr. Modi, it is time to accept that BJP’s politics of hate is for garnering votes rather than uniting India for peace and prosperity. That is why when you say “sabka saath, sabka vikaas” and “desh ko ek rehna hai”, your words sound hollow. You say you want ‘shanti’, but members of your own party cause ‘ashanti’.
Mr. Mahesh Sharma, your very own Culture Minister said on October 4, 2015 “Maar diya hoga kisi shaitaan ne”. That shaitaan belongs to a mindset encouraged by the BJP. That shaitaan is the mind-set of the Sangh. That shaitaan benefits the politics of the BJP.
Your Urban Development Minister said: “these are local happenings”……..“you have to understand the sensitivities, the local situation, then come to conclusions”. Whose sensitivities Mr. Prime Minister? The sensitivities of those who killed Mohammad Akhlaq! To top it all, Nitin Gadkari when asked why Prime Minister Modi has not spoken for so many days, said “bole to bole kyun? Nahi bole to kyun nahi bole?…. ab pradhan mantri kya har vishay par bolenge?”. Your MoS Agriculture, Sanjeev Baliyan says “The issue should not be linked to communalism and
to any party base. Whatever happened was wrong and unfortunate. But why such incidents happen? Look at any districts in the state, cow slaughter houses are set up at every place….. “It is not BJP’s agenda. This is an issue of the whole Hindu community. Don’t link this issue with BJP”.
Mr. Sangeet Som, BJP MLA says that if action is taken against innocent people, we will give a befitting reply. He further stated that “we can give a reply whenever we want”. The BJP’s western UP unit’s vice-president Shrichand Sharma said “This happens every day. When we hurt people’s sentiments, such clashes take place”.
I can go on and on Mr. Modi, but it is sad to see the Prime Minister of this country say: “because of politics and for petty gains, people are making irresponsible statements”. Mr. Prime Minister, these are your own Ministers. I have quoted the statements of Ministers of your own Cabinet and office bearers of BJP. If you consider their statements irresponsible, then it your duty to chide, reprimand and distance yourself from them.
What is unfortunate is that you too are playing politics. Your strategy ever since you became Prime Minister is to allow your Ministers and BJP functionaries to create an environment of communal tension and violence. After polarizing the polity for political gain, you then make a wishy-washy statement, talking of ‘akhandata/sadbhavana’ so that you reap both harvests.
You said you’re a votary of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji would have gone on a fast unto death had he witnessed an incident like the lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq at Dadri. Gandhiji would never make the kind of speeches you are making in Bihar. Let me update you on what Gandhiji said about eating beef. He had said, “It is generally known that I am a staunch vegetarian and food reformer. But it is not equally generally known that
Ahimsa extends as much to human beings as to lower animals and that I freely associate with meat-eaters. Hindus may not compel Musalmans to abstain from meat or even beef eating. Vegetarian Hindus may not compel other Hindus to abstain from fish, flesh or fowl. I would not make India sober at the point of the sword. Nothing has lowered the morale of the nation so much as violence” (Young India, 1921).
Renowned writers and Sahitya Akademi award winners, Nayantara Sehgal, Dr. Ashok Vajpeyi, Uday Prakash and now Shashi Deshpande and Sarah Joseph have returned their awards in protest against the assault on right to freedom of both life and expression.
That you don’t mean what you say is reflected by what you have said in the past. Let me remind you what you said Mr. Prime Minister before the Lok Sabha elections, in 2012 as Chief Minister of Gujarat on the birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap. You attacked the Central Government by stating “Rana Pratap dedicated his life to gau raksha (cow protection). He fought wars and sacrificed young men to protect the cow. The Centre’s dream is to bring about a Pink Revolution….To make money, plans are being made to slaughter gaye maa (the mother cow) and it is at moments like this that you remember Rana Pratap”. It seems the members of the BJP are trying to show that they are all Rana Prataps.
In April, 2014 in Nawada, Bihar, you said that “the Delhi sarkar will not give out subsidies to farmers or to Yadavs keeping cows but will give out subsidies to people who slaughter cows, who slaughter animals, who are destroying our rivers of milk, as long as they set up qatlkhanas”. Your thought process and your mind-set are the same as that of Mahesh Sharma. So please don’t pretend to distance yourself from him.
Your double speak is clear after you became Prime Minister. Please explain why beef exports were not banned. In 2014 – 15 beef exports grew by 20% and Gujarat, Mr. Prime Minister is amongst the top 10 states in India in terms of the number of slaughter houses. So your words sound hollow. It is time to be true to your office. You are not just Narendra Modi; you are the Prime Minister of India.