Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the “icon of constitutional commitment to secularism”, PTI reported.

In an interview with the news agency, Naqvi recalled that Modi had bowed before the Constitution before taking oath and had said that those who did not vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party were equal to him, as compared to those who did. The Union minister claimed that there could not be a better example of “inclusive mentality and secular thinking” than this.

Attacking the Opposition, Naqvi said that the Congress’ alliances with the All India United Democratic Front in Assam, Indian Secular Front in West Bengal and the Indian Union Muslim League in Kerala in the ongoing Assembly polls had exposed the party’s “secular tag on communal bag” policy, PTI reported.

Naqvi said that the Congress perceived secularism as “a vote-hijacking machine” and claimed that no party could be more secular than the BJP. He denied suggestions that the BJP was on the back foot on the matter of the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam and said that the party was canvassing the work it has done in the last five years. Naqvi’s assertion is in spite of the fact that the BJP has not made a mention of the CAA in its manifesto for Assam, even as it made the law a top priority in West Bengal.

He also took a veiled jibe at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s leg injury, which she sustained during campaigning, and countered All India United Democratic Front’s Badruddin Ajmal’s allegation that the BJP was trying to polarise voters by highlighting his beard and skull cap.

“These days it is a trend to seek sympathy,” he claimed, according to PTI. “Somebody will get their leg broken, somebody will say my ‘daadhi’ [beard], ‘topi’ [cap] is getting affected, somebody will start chanting mantras, someone will wear a topi indoors while sport a tilak outside, this is nothing but electoral buffoonery.”

The minister asserted that the Muslim voters were aligning with the BJP and their support for Modi was visible in the Assembly elections.“For the Congress, secularism is a vote-hijacking machine, while for us it is a commitment to inclusive development,” Naqvi said. “Congress is therefore, now getting isolated as it neither has anything to say nor any achievement to show.”

Expressing confidence about the BJP’s win in all states in the Assembly elections, Naqvi said that the Opposition was already making excuses by questioning electronic voting machines, and accusing the Election Commission of being biased towards the Bharatiya Janata Party.

He also made a reference to Mamata Banerjee’s letter last month urging other Opposition parties for a “united struggle” against the BJP. Naqvi, however, dismissed the prospects of an Opposition unity, suggesting that they have tried such strategy earlier too, but have “failed miserably”.