Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that many people were trying to destroy his image for more than 20 years now, but in the process, they have destroyed their own. Modi made the remark in an interview with News18 India when he was asked about the Time magazine’s description of him as “India’s divider-in-chief”.
When asked about claims that the elections are polarised and he is the “biggest divider”, Modi wondered whether the divide, if at all it exists, is “horizontal or vertical”. “Today, the poor has become polarised, he is directly identifying with Modi,” the prime minister said. “If the poor wants to benefit as well as the nation, what’s wrong with that? Why do such people get sad? If the poor thinks beyond race, religion, sect and caste, and comes forward for his children’s future and sees the country’ future in his children’s future, we should feel proud.”
The Time magazine has used the description on the cover of its May 20 issue. The cover story, written by novelist Aatish Taseer, has the headline: “Can the world’s largest democracy endure another five years of a Modi government?” The article says that Modi’s ascension in 2014 showed that “beneath the surface of what the elite had believed was a liberal syncretic culture, India was indeed a cauldron of religious nationalism, anti-Muslim sentiment and deep-seated caste bigotry”.
When questioned about the violence during the Lok Sabha elections this year in West Bengal, Modi said, “The silence of the people who believe in democracy and the ones who are neutral is the most worrisome aspect because the pattern of forgiving everything else due to a blind hatred for Modi can cause a lot of damage to the nation.”
Modi said Kashmir saw no violence in the recent panchayat elections, but elections in Bengal have been marred by violence. “The Bengal government, Trinamool [Congress] and the goons of Mamata’s party have all teamed up in their fight against the people of Bengal,” he added.
His comment came days after violence broke out at a roadshow held by Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah in Kolkata. The BJP and the Trinamool Congress have accused each other of plotting the violence.
The prime minister said the Opposition parties have no slogan for their election campaigning and their only way to garner publicity is to abuse Modi. “This is the first election where Modi is also the theme of the Opposition,” he said.