New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi dubbed BSP chief Mayawati's outreach to Muslim electorate a "desperate attempt to save a sinking ship" alluding to her political fortunes. Her desperation was understandable, Modi added, but the silence of secular people has exposed their "selective outrage".
“Mujhe chinta Mayawati ki kam hai. Kyunki wo duubti hui nayya hai. Mussalmano ka sahara dhuundti hai. Main unki museebat samajh sakta hun. Meri chinta desh mein secularism ka jhanda leke ghuumne waalon ki hai...24 ghante se unke muh par taala kyun laga hua hai? (I am not worried about Mayawati. Her ship is sinking. She is looking for support from Muslims to stay afloat. I can understand her plight. I worry for the flag bearers of secularism. Why have they been silent for the last 24 hours?)” PM Modi said in an exclusive interview with News18 Network Group Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi.
On Sunday at a joint rally of SP-BSP in Deoband, Mayawati had appealed to the Muslims to vote for the grand alliance and not Congress as it would split the community’s vote. Following this, the Election Commission had sought a report from Saharanpur District Magistrate on the contents of her speech.
PM Modi said that Mayawati was bound to resort to asking for community specific votes because "she is dismayed by repeated electoral defeats...asking specially for Muslim votes etcetera. This is an issue for the Election Commission to take a call on."
Had any leader asked for votes in the name of Hindus, Modi said, "The secular people would have created pandemonium. So many 'award-wapsi' people would have come out in protest, so many signature campaign enthusiasts would have come out. Why is this community silent? This is a serious concern for the country. Why this selective outrage?"
On being asked if Mayawati’s appeal for Muslim votes hurt the sensibility of the secular people, Modi said, "This is Mayawati's compulsion to somehow save herself by asking for votes from here and there."
The BJP leadership has launched a full-throttle attack on Mayawati since she delivered her speech on Sunday. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said at a rally, "In a rally Mayawati said she wants only Muslim votes, then the other voters will naturally decide on where they want to go." He also accused the BSP supremo of insulting Dalit icons Kanshi Ram and Dr Ambedkar by appealing to Muslims to vote for the grand alliance.
While sharing stage with her alliance partners, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and RJD chief Ajit Singh, in the first joint Mahagathbandhan campaign, Mayawati had said, "I want to tell Muslim voters, the Congress can't defeat BJP. Only gathbandhan can defeat the BJP. The Congress also knows this, but they are fielding people from castes and communities that will help BJP."
(The full interview will be aired today at 7pm and 10pm on CNN-News18, News18 India, CNBC TV18 and other News18 regional channels.)