India’s PM Modi: Opposition Wants To Give Money to Muslim ‘Infiltrators’, Distribute Wealth to ‘Those Who Have Many Children’

The general election in India is ongoing – the largest democratic exercise in human history, with almost a billion people voting during six weeks.

As one would expect, everything in this affair is monumental – including the controversies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ignited one such heated debate when he asked the crowd in a rally: “Should your hard-earned money be given to infiltrators?”

His remarks were taken as referring to India’s Muslim minority, with him alleging that the opposition Congress party would take away even mangalsutras — the auspicious necklace that a husband ties around his wife’s neck in Hindu weddings — if given a chance.

BBC reported:

“India’s opposition has accused PM Narendra Modi of Islamophobic remarks after he claimed his opponents would distribute people’s wealth to ‘infiltrators’ if they won power. Mr. Modi told a rally the opposition Congress wanted to distribute wealth to ‘those who have many children’.

[…] Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has often been accused of singling out India’s minority communities, especially Muslims. Rights groups say that they face discrimination and attacks, and have been forced to live as ‘second-class’ citizens under Mr. Modi’s rule – an allegation the BJP denies.”

Modi made the comments on Sunday in Rajasthan state, when talking about the Congress party’s manifesto.

According to the PM, the manifesto stated a Congress government would ‘take stock’ of the gold women traditionally save in India, and redistribute it.

“And their earlier [Congress] government had said that Muslims have the first right over the nation’s wealth. […] This means that they [the Congress] will collect people’s wealth and distribute it to whom? […] To those who have more children. To the infiltrators. Should your hard-earned money be given to infiltrators?”

Congress leaders defended their manifesto, saying that it was ‘for every Indian’, about ‘equality and justice for all’.

Modi’s remarks were called a panicked ‘hate speech’ to divert people’s attention from the opposition having performed better than his BJP in the first phase of polling.

Muslim leader Asaduddin Owaisi said that “since 2002, the only Modi guarantee has been to abuse Muslims and get votes”.

Al Jazeera reported:

“Asim Ali, a [Muslim] political commentator, said Modi’s remarks were ‘the most inflammatory statement by a sitting prime minister in the recent history of India’ and marked a significant shift in his election pitch.

[…] ‘Five years ago, the question was why is Modi not reigning in extremist voices; now, PM Modi is the most extremist campaigner’, said Ali.

[…] In 2006, then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of the Congress had said India’s traditionally marginalized communities, including castes that had faced historical discrimination and religious minorities, ‘particularly Muslims’, should have the first claim on the nation’s resources.”

Paul Serran

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