Seeking to allay any apprehensions among Muslims, Narendra Modi on Monday ruled out scrapping any existing constitutional and statutory mechanisms meant for their welfare and said he would instead work to strengthen them.
Terming secularism an ‘import’ from the West, Modi said that Congress has used it to pocket Muslim votes and they are now being treated as a ‘vote bank’ by it and other parties.
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In an interview to Urdu weekly Nai Duniya, he said the Constitution has given equal rights to all citizens and religious harmony and respect for all religions are in ‘India’s DNA’.
Asked if he would do away with the Minority Commission, Minority Finance Development Corporation as feared by his critics, Modi said, “There is a need to strengthen constitutional and statutory bodies and not to abolish them. The need is to make them productive and strong so that they could do solid work instead of continuing with the existing system which takes symbolic measures.”
When asked if his party would bring a Uniform Civil Code, the prime ministerial candidate said its implementation does not mean that the Hindu Code would be imposed on all citizens of the country. “The Constitution says that the government will make efforts to implement the Uniform Civil Code... I believe that there are several provisions in the Hindu Code, which are irrelevant and they need reforms. Carrying 18th century laws in to the 21st century is unnecessary,” he said.
Modi said extremism over castes and religions have been used to divide the country and advocated zero tolerance for the guilty in religious and caste violence. In such issues, he said, more than government actions it is the dialogue among different sections of society which is more important.
Arguing that secularism has been ‘exploited’ for political purposes, Modi said the politics in present times is revolving around it. “This is used to mislead and frighten people and deviate from main issues such as poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. Political parties are frightening Muslims in the name of secularism and turning them into vote banks,” he said.
Under attack for refusing to wear a skull cap, Modi said the Muslim religious symbol should be used for worshipping and not for political gains. “I think that the politics over the Muslim skull cap should be put to an end as politics over anybody’s religious faith is condemnable... The symbol of Muslims’ faith should be kept away from politics. Neither should it be insulted nor should there be any politics over it. The skull cap of a Muslim is for worshipping and not for politics,” he said.
Asked if he had bitterness for Muslims as they don’t vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Gujarat chief minister said,”"I doubt such an analysis by poll pundits. It is absolutely wrong to say that Muslims don’t vote for BJP. The extensive support received by the party is a proof that people of all religion and cults are with us. There is no question of having bitterness (for Muslims). The assembly elections have proved that a large number of Muslims are standing with the BJP. This misinformation campaign should be put to an end and the game to mislead a community should end,” he added.