Narendra Modi and the father-son duo of Farooq and Omar Abdullah were on Monday engaged in bitter sparring, with the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate alleging that the biggest blow to secularism in the country was delivered in Kashmir from where Kashmiri Pandits were forced out due to their religion.
Both Farooq and Omar came out all guns blazing against Modi, saying Modi’s intention was to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir and asserting that this will never be acceptable to the people of the state.
“Modi sahib, you do not have the courage to come to Kashmir to seek votes. You have set out to become the prime minister of the country but you will not come to Kashmir to seek votes,” said Omar in Srinagar, adding, “You will go to Jammu and Ladakh but not the Valley because the ideas you have for this place, the way you have tried to defame people, I don’t think you will have any place in their hearts.”
Sharply reacting to Farooq’s remark that those voting for the BJP prime ministerial candidate should drown in the sea, Modi said the biggest blow to secularism in India was delivered in Kashmir from where Kashmiri Pandits were forced out due to their religion.
Using a video message released by the CM’s office to lash out at Abdullah, Modi said the Union minister has no moral right to preach against communalism as policies of his father Sheikh Abdullah, him and his son and Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar were responsible for ‘communalising’ the state politics. “If somebody has to drown then you should look at your (Abdullah) face in mirror. Put your father’s face in front of the mirror and ask this question. Those who have chased Kashmiri Pandits out have no face to preach against communalism,” he said in a hard-hitting statement.
Invoking India’s age-old tradition of secularism and syncretism, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, accused by critics of practising Hindutva politics, said these high values are the best policies for India and it is his commitment to ‘take everybody along and develop all’. “I want to tell Farooq Abdullah that the thousands of years-old great tradition of secularism in India suffered its biggest and deepest blow in Kashmir. And this happened due to the politics of your father, due to your politics and due to your son’s politics,” said Modi adding, “Kashmir is the only place in this country where Pandits were evicted due to their religion. Kashmir was the land of sufi traditions... and it has been tarred with communal colour by you for selfish interests.”
Abdullah drew BJP’s ire with his remarks on Sunday that those who vote for Modi should drown in the sea and also threatened that Kashmir will not remain with India if the country becomes communal. Addressing an election meeting at Kangan in Ganderbal district, Farooq asked, “What does Modi want? Why are we against him? We are not against his person but against his intentions. His first intention is to abrogate Article 370 which gives special status to us (Jammu and Kashmir).”
Farooq said, “Abrogation of Article 370 means our flag will be pulled down, our constitution annulled and we be made their slaves. People of Jammu and Kashmir will never accept this.” He said the other issue on Modi’s agenda, which is a cause of concern for Muslims of the country, was BJP’s wish to implement uniform civil code.
Omar said, “Majority of Kashmiri Muslims are pained at the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and want them to come back. Modi has insulted the people of Kashmir by his statement,” he said. Later, Omar tweeted, “Modi forgets that Sheikh Abdullah chose a secular India rather than Muslim Pakistan and then spent two decades incarcerated but didn’t waver.
Complete Coverage: Lok Sabha Election 2014