India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the murder of a Muslim man in Dadri, near Delhi, over rumours that his family was consuming beef, by delivering a strong message against communalism and communal violence.
He chose an election rally in Bihar to clarify his position, saying: “In a democracy everyone has the right to speak their mind. But Hindus must decide whether they want to fight Muslims or poverty. Muslims must decide whether they want to fight Hindus or poverty.”
Modi has been criticized for keeping silent on the Dadri murder even though his ministers, Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, have condemned the killing. The PM sought to set doubts to rest by citing President Pranab Mukherjee's statement warning people against any dilution in India's core values of diversity and tolerance. The Rashtrapati has shown us the way. “There is no bigger inspiration than him, let's follow his path,” PM Modi said.
President Mukherjee a day earlier had said that tolerance was core to India's survival. Modi though had been slammed by his political opponents for not commenting on the unfortunate incident in Bhisada village where a Muslim man was lynched over rumours of consuming beef.
The 'long-drawn' silence of the Prime Minister though ended when he said that the country must remain united. "Hindus and Muslims should work together to fight poverty. India has to stay united. Only communal harmony and brotherhood will take the nation forward," Modi said.
"Hear the speech of President Pranab Mukherjee. There can be no bigger thought than that. President has shown us the way, and we have to walk on that path. Only then will we be able to live up to the expectations of the world," the PM said.
Pranab Mukherjee had earlier said that Indian civilization has flourished due to "core civilizational values and adherence to them". Hitting out at communal forces who were trying to gain political mileage from the Dadri incident, the PM said, "I want to tell the people that because of politics and for petty gains, people are making irresponsible statements. I appeal to citizens not to take them seriously ... It is time to shun politics of polarization."