Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said political differences can be set aside but India’s development cannot wait, and that it should not be seen through the prism of politics, reported PTI. The prime minister was delivering the keynote address on the occasion of the centenary year celebrations of the Aligarh Muslim University.

“People spreading negativity can be seen everywhere,” Modi said without elaborating further. The prime minister said it is important to set aside ideological differences, and that no matter which religion one is born into, it is important to “blend one’s aspirations with national goals”. “When it comes to the nation, there cannot be any ideological differences,” he added. “AMU has produced many freedom fighters, who set aside their ideological differences and fought together.”

Modi is the first prime minister to attend an event at the university, one of the oldest in the country, since 1964, when Lal Bahadur Shastri delivered the keynote speech at the convocation ceremony.

Modi asserted that Indians, irrespective of religion, will get equal opportunities to fulfill their dreams. “The country is on the path where every citizen should be rest assured about their constitutional rights and their future,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “The country is on the path where no citizen would be left behind because of their religion and everyone would get equal opportunities so that everyone can fulfil their dreams.”

The alumni of the Aligarh Muslim University represent India’s culture across the world, the prime minister said as he lauded the university’s contribution in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, reported Hindustan Times.

“Getting thousands of people tested free of cost, building isolation wards and plasma banks and contributing a large amount to the PM Cares Fund shows the seriousness of fulfilling your obligations to the society,” he said in a virtual address.

The prime minister added that in the last 100 years AMU has helped in strengthening India’s relations with many countries in the world. The research done at the university on Arabic, Urdu and Persian languages and Islamic literature “gives new energy to India’s cultural relations with the entire Islamic world”, Modi said.

The prime minister lauded the AMU for promoting interdisciplinary education and said it represents a mini-India. “People tell me that the AMU campus is like a city in itself,” Modi said. “We see a mini India among different departments, dozens of hostels, thousands of teachers and professors. The diversity which we see here is not only the strength of this university but also of the entire nation.”

The prime minister said that the AMU has crafted and polished millions and facilitated modern and scientific thinking, “inspiring them to do something for the society and the nation”.

AMU and CAA protests

Last year, Aligarh Muslim University had become the centre of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act after it was passed by the Parliament. Hundreds of students protesting against the law bore the brunt of police brutality when protests had turned violent on December 15, 2019.

A fact-finding report on the violence had found that law-enforcement officials fired stun grenades, “usually used in war-like situations or terror operations”, at students and raised “chilling slogans like Jai Shri Ram while attacking the students and setting ablaze their scooters and vehicles...”. The report had said that the university administration not only failed in their duty to protect the campus and its residents against “brutality by the Uttar Pradesh Police, but also that they in fact invited the police forces and their weapons into the campus”.