Mumbai: Senior Congress leader and former Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) for playing communal and divisive politics after posters comparing "HAJ" with "RAM" surfaced in poll bound Gujarat.
"Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani are sons of the soil of Gujarat. To call them HAJ is playing the communal card and divisive politics", Chidambaram said in a series of tweets posted today morning.
While "Ram" is revered by Hindus, Haj (pronounced also as Hajj) is the annual ritual Muslims perform in the memory of Prophet Ibrahim, his noble wife Hager and son Prophet ismael (peace be upon them all).
The poster titled ‘Pasangi Tamari’ (Your Choice) is being circulated on WhatsApp that asks electorates in Gujarat to choose between RAM and HAJ. The poster also has impages of a Mandir and the Holy Kaaba.
While RAM is derived from the first character of Chief Minister Rupani, BJP Chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi, HAJ is H from the name of Hardik Patel, A is the letter of Alpesh Thakur and J is the first letter of Jignesh Mewani.
The three young leaders representing Patidars, OBCs and Dalits have made the Gujarat state elections tough for the BJP.
"The Dalits and the Scheduled Tribes believe they have been neglected and are the victims of oppression and violence. The minorities believe they are discriminated against and a majoritarian agenda is being imposed upon them", Chidambarm said.
"Patel, Thakor and Mevani are articulating the demands of Gujarati youth for jobs and development. Their campaign should not be trivialised", Chidambarm added.
Ironically, the objectionable posters appeared and circulated in Gujarat at the time when BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, are accusing the Congress of dividing the people of Gujarat on castes and sectarian lines.
Slamming Prime Minister Modi who is resorting to personal attack while addressing rallies in Gujarat, Chidambaram said, "Even during a state election, Mr Narendra Modi should speak as the Prime Minister of India."
"Long before Mr Modi became chief minister, the Indian people and the Central governments (including Congress governments) had recognised the achievements of numerous Gujaratis, starting with Mahatma Gandhi", he said.
Challenging the Gujarat Development Model, the former Finance Minister said, "In the Social Progress Index for 29 states, released by the Institute for Competitiveness and the Social Progress Imperative, Gujarat is plumb in the middle (rank 15) with 14 states above and 14 states below."
"Gujarat is in the top five on ‘Basic Human Needs’ but in the bottom five on ‘Foundations of Wellbeing’ and 9th from the bottom on ‘Opportunity’", he added.