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Kajal Agrawal

Shameless Lier king Modi always speaks hate, 'Bigot': On Social Media, Outpourings of Disgust and Fear Greet PM Modi's Hate Speech Featured

  22 April 2024

'I think we can stop pretending now. The propaganda of hate is loud enough.'

Anger, fear and fervent pleas to not forget the secular fabric of the country flooded social media a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered one of the most direct and openly vicious attacks against Indian Muslims at an election rally in Rajasthan.

Modi and leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party are no strangers to communal dog-whistling around polls. However, no less an authority than the prime minister naming and branding Indian Muslims as ‘infiltrators’ and peddling disinformation in falsely attributing a line to his predecessor mark a new low when it comes to hate speech.

 

While some noted that Modi was fulfilling his foremost promise as a political leader elected on a communal plank, many others sought to deliver quick fact-checks on Modi’s false claim that former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh had “said that Muslims have the first right on the country’s property.”

‘There are certain social groups who are relatively badly placed’

The former prime minister’s media advisor Sanjaya Baru noted on X that Modi’s claim that Singh had said that minorities have the “first claim on resources” was something that had been refuted earlier – in 2006 – as well.

The Wire, in its report on Modi’s speech, pointed to the fact that the PMO had then said that Modi had indulged in a “deliberate and mischievous misinterpretation” of Singh’s December 9 address at the meeting of the National Development Council – the text of which is archived in a government website.

What Singh had said was: “We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably in the fruits of development. They must have the first claim on resources.”

Immediately before this, Singh had spoken of those in the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women and children.

A year after Modi’s first attempt at distorting this phrase, at the 54th NDC meeting, on December 19, 2007, Singh took on the criticism of his line and noted why the focus of the government’s plans must be on the marginalised sections of society.

“This goal of this Plan is to invest in our people to enable them to become active participants in processes of economic growth. The Plan does not attempt to divide our people on the basis of caste, creed, gender or religion,” he said.

Then, Singh said something which encapsulated why there is need for corrective action – not at the cost of other groups:

“It is, however, a reality that there are certain social groups who are relatively badly placed on all developmental indicators. The Plan does pay special attention to the needs of these marginalised groups and targets them in a precise manner. This is, after all, the true meaning of inclusiveness. Inclusiveness does mean better targeting. And it is not at at the cost of other groups. You will all agree that if we hope to have a prosperous, equitable, just India, we must cover all groups and ensure that no one is being left behind.”

Several on social media have spread news clips that attempt to drive home this very salient point. One of them features Lallantop editor Saurabh Dwivedi delving into Singh’s original speech.

 

Whither police, whither EC?

Prominent journalists, commentators and activists have called out law enforcement for its silence over what is clearly an act of hate speech.

Activist Shabnam Hashmi asked why the Rajasthan police had not filed a first information report against the prime minister as per its constitutional duty.

 

Hashmi was not alone. “Can a state (Tamil Nadu, for example) police file an FIR against the PM under sections 295A and 153A for his hate speech against Muslims?” asked the commentator behind the account @m_bhimraj.

Some others called on the Election Commission to act against such a brazen violation of the Model Code of Conduct. “Please justify your tax payed salary (paid by Indian citizens) and act,” wrote one. Many more made observations on the unlikelihood of such an event ever occurring.

 

‘Bigot he has always been’

Participants in this conversation – prominent journalists among them – noted how hatred had become mainstream and observed that this was the fare to be expected. Some pointed to how barebones reporting that leads with a quote from Modi’s speech itself is an act of negligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columnist Andy Mukherjee quoted from famed economist Prabhat Patnaik’s 2021 Boston Review piece ‘Why Neoliberalism Needs Neofascists’, on how mass support fuels fascist systems.

 

‘Not getting the attention he wants’

More than one journalist pointed to how resorting to such talk signified desperation from a prime minister and party which had expressed confidence in sweeping 400 seats these polls.

 

 

Outpourings of disgust accompanied notes on how the country as a whole stood to suffer from such communal expression.

“At least earlier he had the decency to outsource the brazen lies,” wrote the commentator behind the account @vaniIlaessence.

 https://twitter.com/AudreyTruschke/status/1782111893773025699


Some exhorted voters to act on the basis of their knowledge of such divisive talk. Some others simply apologised to Muslim citizens.

 

 
 



 


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