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PM's "Wealth To Infiltrators" Jab, Manmohan Singh's 2006 Speech, A Huge Row

New Delhi: 

Addressing a poll rally in Rajasthan yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that the Manmohan Singh-led Congress government had said Muslims have the first right on the country's wealth. The remarks have sparked a massive row, with one section criticising the Prime Minister for using expressions such as "infiltrators" for Muslims, and another section slamming Dr Singh over his alleged remarks.

What Did PM Modi Say

The Prime Minister was in Rajasthan's Banswara for a rally ahead of the second phase of Lok Sabha polls, due this Friday. In a scathing attack on the Congress, he pointed to the Opposition party's manifesto. "What Congress has said in its manifesto is serious. It has said that if the Congress forms the government, everyone's property will be surveyed, it will calculate gold belonging to mothers and sisters and then redistribute it. They won't even spare your mangalsutra," he said, adding that the Congress is now "in the grip of urban Naxals".

"Do you accept this? Does the government have a right to seize your property? Gold is not for show off, it is linked to women's self-respect. Her mangalsutra is linked to her dreams. You want to snatch it?" he said.

The Prime Minister said that when the Congress was in power under Dr Manmohan Singh, it had said Muslims have the first right on the country's wealth. "This means that they will gather this property and distribute it among people who have more children, among infiltrators. Will your hard-earned money be given to infiltrators? Do you accept this? The Congress manifesto is saying this."

What Manmohan Singh Had Said

Prime Minister Modi's remarks sparked a massive uproar as Opposition leaders slammed him for his comments on the Muslim community. The BJP responded by sharing a clip from a 2006 address of Dr Singh at a meeting of the National Development Council. "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 our resources," he is heard saying.

The video, which captures a short part of the whole address, had sparked a row back in December 2006 and the Prime Minister's Office had then responded with a clarification. A PMO press release titled "Clarifications on PM's reference to "First Claim On Resources" and dated December 10, 2006 states, "Through a deliberate and mischievous misinterpretation of what the Prime Minister said here yesterday at the meeting of the National Development Council, on fiscal priorities of the government, an avoidable controversy has been generated. The Prime Minister's observations have also been quoted out of context in some sections of the electronic media, fuelling a baseless controversy."

The release went on to share the full text of the paragraph in which the then Prime Minister spoke about minority empowerment.

"I believe our collective priorities are clear: agriculture, irrigation and water resources, health, education, critical investment in rural infrastructure, and the essential public investment needs of general infrastructure, along with programmes for the upliftment of SC/STs, other backward classes, minorities and women and children. The component plans for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will need to be revitalized. 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. The Centre has a myriad other responsibilities whose demands will have to be fitted within the over-all resource availability," Dr Singh was quoted as saying.

"It will be seen from the above that the Prime Minister's reference to 'first claim on resources' refers to all the 'priority' areas listed above, including programmes for the upliftment of SCs, STs, OBCs, women and children and minorities," the PMO had clarified.

"It may also be noted that these observations of the Prime Minister were made after referring to the very good performance of the Indian economy in recent months, and the expectation that the economy would continue to do well, creating new income and employment opportunities for all sections of society. While better off sections of society will benefit from this process, it is the responsibility of the Government to pay special attention to the welfare of weaker and marginalized sections. The Prime Minister has said on several occasions that 'India must shine, but shine for all'," added Manmohan Singh's office.

Opposition Hits Out At PM

The Prime Minister's remarks have triggered a sharp response from Opposition leaders, who have described it as an attempt to shift the discourse from public interest issues.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a post on X that the Prime Minister is "scared" after the first round of polling and wants to mislead the people. "Trends have started coming in of the immense support for Congress's revolutionary manifesto. The country will vote on issues, livelihood, for family and the future. India will not be misled," he said.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, a key member of the Opposition bloc INDIA, criticised PM Modi over the speech. "Not only the country but the whole world also knows Prime Minister Narendra Modi lies, the way how he spread lies about the Congress's 'Nyay Patra' and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is an example of dirty politics."

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav told the media that the Prime Minister should talk about real issues. "With folded hands, I appeal to him to quit politics of hate and talk about issues. The country's youngsters, the elderly, traders, farmers, the women, all sections have only one issue - poverty, inflation, unemployment and a poor economy. This is the real issue." He added that the Prime Minister should speak on what his government has done in 10 years. "What is your vision for Bihar and the country. Instead of talking about that, only temple-mosque and Hindu-Muslim talk does not suit a Prime Minister."

Slamming the Prime Minister for his remarks, AIMIM chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi posted on X, "Modi today called Muslims infiltrators and people with many children. Since 2002 till this day, the only Modi guarantee has been to abuse Muslims and get votes. If one is talking about the country's wealth, one should know that under Modi's rule the first right to India's wealth has been of his wealthy friends. 1% of Indians own 40% of the country's wealth. Common Hindus are made to fear Muslims while their wealth is being used to enrich others."

What Does Congress Manifesto Say

The Congress manifesto, which was targeted by PM Modi, calls for a nationwide socio-economic and caste Census to provide the data foundation for affirmative action.

Under the Social Justice section, the manifesto says, "Congress has been the most vocal and active champion of the progress of the backward and oppressed classes and castes over the last seven decades. However, caste discrimination is still a reality. The people belonging to the SC, ST and OBC communities have not yet been able to catch up with the rest and are still left behind. While OBC, SC and ST constitute nearly 70 per cent of India's population, their representation in high-ranking professions, services and businesses is disproportionately low. No progressive modern society should tolerate such inequality or discrimination based on ancestry and the consequent denial of equal opportunity."

The manifesto then says that if elected, the Congress will conduct a nationwide socio-economic and caste Census. "Congress will conduct a nation-wide Socio-Economic and Caste Census to enumerate the castes and sub-castes and their socio-economic conditions. Based on the data, we will strengthen the agenda for affirmative action," it says.

The other promises include a Constitutional amendment to raise the 50 per cent ceiling on reservation, filling up vacant posts for candidates from reserved categories, enhancing institutional credit to SCs and STs for building homes and starting businesses and establishing an authority to monitor distribution of government land and surplus land to the poor.

Source: NDTV

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