Gandhinagar: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday unleashed the ‘Ram baan’ in the battle of the ballot, taking a page out of the Supreme Court proceedings on the Ayodhya case to haul the Congress over coals. If it was Congress leader Mani Shanker Iyer’s turn during the prime minister last visit to be picked up for upbraiding, this time it was Sibal.
Referring to Sibal’s plea before the Supreme Court seeking a hearing on the temple issue well past the 2019 parliamentary elections, Modi said, “I congratulate the Sunni Waqf Board. They have done a great job. They have taken a stand for the unity of the country.”
The PM’s reference was to a statement made by one Haji Mehboob who claimed to speak for the Sunni board and distanced the body from Sibal’s request seeking to defer the case till July, 2019. Mehboob had told the national media while Sibal was the lawyer for the Board, “he is also related to a political party.” He also stated that Sibal’s statement in the apex court was wrong and that the board wanted a solution to the vexed issue at the earliest.
Modi, however, was not prepared to accept the Congress party’s plea that deferring a hearing on the Ayodhya temple issue was Sibal’s personal stand and the party did not subscribe to it. “Is the Wakf Board contesting the elections? Is the election not a matter of interest for the Congress which would be a party in it?” He inferred from this that the Congress was not telling the truth in trying to distance itself from Sibal’s plea. Attacking the Congress for not keeping the interests of the nation in mind, Modi said it was highly improper of the Congress to link the temple with the elections.
Then, ostensibly to woo the Muslim women voters, Modi drew a parallel with the “Triple Talaq” issue when everyone expected his government to articulate a clear stand once the Uttar Pradesh elections were over. “But to the BJP, unlike the Congress, the interest of the country was uppermost and we did not want the Muslim women to keep suffering. So, my government took a definite stand in the Supreme Court, unmindful of whether or not we lose votes in the UP elections. He also added that the rights of women took precedence over the electoral considerations.
Modi also took umbrage at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi calling him and his government “friend of rich industrialists and enumerated the pro-poor programmes initiated by his government, both as chief minister and now as prime minister. He demanded to know whether a government which had launched a drive for education of the girl child and facilitated power supply to the poor village households could be classified as a “pro-rich government.” But, “what can one say, the leader who is going around making such allegations does not have even a basic knowledge about anything…’’