Accusing the Congress of playing vote bank politics, Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Sunday attacked Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde over his proposal to state governments to review terror cases against members of the minority community.
"Just look at their brazenness, they are playing communal politics. The home minister has written a letter to state governments that if you arrest a lawbreaker see that Muslims are not arrested. Why is it so? Does a lawbreaker have any religion," he said while addressing a rally in Panaji.
"Will religion decide the fate of a lawbreaker whether he should be arrested or released? There should be no discrimination on the basis of religion. One should not be punished for belonging to a particular religion but this should be for all people. There should be no vote bank politics," Modi said.
He said when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is asked about such letters, "he expresses surprise over them and says he will look into the matter. This is how he reacts and responds."
The BJP has hit out at Shinde for the way he is taking up the issue of criminal law where only the public prosecutor and judge can take a final call on withdrawing cases and said the home minister is "ill-advised" on the matter as he has no right to withdraw such cases.
The BJP prime ministerial candidate made a veiled reference to the removal of Jayanthi Natarjan from the environment ministry, saying for the first time he had heard of the "Jayanthi tax" apparently referring to swirling allegations during her tenure.
"There was a storm over the environment ministry and all files were blocked. No file was moving without money. We had heard of income, sales and excise taxes but for the first time, we heard about a Jayanthi tax in Delhi without which nothing was moving.”
"Till the time that was not paid, files could not be moved in the environment ministry. I have never experienced it myself as I never need it but we are shocked on this. What kind of systems have they developed," he said.
Natarajan denied allegations levelled against her by Modi, saying the BJP leader was trying to target her as she has been very vocal against him in the past and had blocked two of his projects.
"It is a targeted personal attack. I totally deny what he says. It is completely baseless. There are major green violations in Gujarat. He was destroying the environment. I was opposed to his destruction of environment," Natarajan told PTI.
On the issue of restrictions over mining due to environmental issues, Modi said his party would "protect the environment and bring transparency in mining" to help economy, whose growth depends on infrastructure, raw material and human resources.
In his address, Modi attacked the Gandhi family including former PM Rajiv Gandhi for "wasting" the first 50 years after independence and "weakening" the constitutional institutions and centralising the power in one centre, which has no accountability.
"People asked me how will you be different. I tell them we will do away with these ills. We believe in decentralisation and there will be accountability," Modi said.
The BJP leader said the Congress has become the symbol of a culture which includes "corruption, dynasty politics, patriarchy, communalism, vote bank politics" and the BJP was determined to rid the country of "all these ills".
Image: Narendra Modi addresses his first rally in Panaji, Goa after being nominated as BJP PM candidate