Self-ap­pointed so­cial guardians didn’t like Modi with Dal­its: PM Hous­ing boost for sub­urbs with civic elec­tions ahead


Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­[email protected]­dus­tan­ Manasi Phadke and Naresh Ka­math ht­[email protected]­dus­tan­

“Self-ap­pointed guardians” threat­ened by his gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to Dal­its are cre­at­ing so­cial ten­sions, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has said, ex­hort­ing them not to in­flict pain on wounds caused by “thou­sand­sof year­sof in­jus­tice”.

Modi, whose gov­ern­ment is ac­cused by the op­po­si­tion of un­leash­ing so­cial ter­ror, cau­tioned against giv­ing a po­lit­i­cal colour to so­cial prob­lems while ask­ing party hot­heads to choose their words care­fully.

Con­test­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that his gov­ern­ment was anti-Dalit, Modi said he was work­ing for the de­vel­op­ment of the com­mu­nity.

“All those self-ap­pointed guardians who were try­ing to cre­ate ten­sions in the coun­try did not like this -- that Modi is with Dal­its, that Modi de­votes him­self to trib­als… Those who see this as an ob­struc­tion to their pol­i­tics are the ones cre­at­ing trou­ble,” he said.

Eco­nomic progress alone was not the so­lu­tion, he said in an in­ter­view to Net­work 18 that was broad­cast on Fri­day.

“Peace, unity and har­mony is es­sen­tial for so­ci­ety. We don’t need unity to fight poverty alone… We need to be com­mit­ted to so­cial jus­tice,” he said.

Warn­ing against casteism, Modi said the BJP would fight the Ut­tar Pradesh elec­tions on the is­sue of de­vel­op­ment alone.

“The poi­son of casteism and com­mu­nal vote bank has caused enough dam­age.”

In­dia’s most pop­u­lous state, which is due for polls early next year, has voted re­gional par­ties for decades and the BJP wants to change that. The party is look­ing be­yond its tra­di­tional sup­port base of up­per castes and is woo­ing Dal­its who ac­count for 21% of the state’s pop­u­la­tion.

Modi counted the gov­ern­ment cel­e­brat­ing Dalit icon BR Ambed­kar’s 125th birth an­niver­sary and the BJP’s size­able pres­ence among marginalis­ed com­mu­ni­ties with many Dalit law­mak­ers as key in­di­ca­tors of his and his party’s at­ti­tude to­wards Dal­its.

Data showed that com­mu­nal vi­o­lence and atroc­i­ties against Dal­its and trib­als had come down un­der his gov­ern­ment, Modi said.

The gov­ern­ment has come un­der in­creased pres­sure af­ter some Dalit youth were flogged in pub­lic Una in his home state of Gu­jarat in July.

Close on the heels of the Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (BMC) elec­tions, the Deven­dra Fad­navis-led gov­ern­ment on Fri­day an­nounced a slew of pro­posed changes to the city’s de­vel­op­ment con­trol reg­u­la­tion, of­fer­ing a wind­fall for the sub­urbs, promis­ing to has­ten re­de­vel­op­ment of old build­ings.

In the first ma­jor po­lit­i­cal event be­fore the 2017 polls, chief min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis shared the stage with Shiv Sena chief Ud­dhav Thack­eray, in one of Mumbai’s largest sub­urbs, Ghatkopar, also hous­ing min­is­ter Prakash Me­hta’s con­stituency, and un­veiled a new ‘hous­ing MORE FSI, MORE HOMES pol­icy.’ The an­nounce­ments catered to the re­de­vel­op­ment of old di­lap­i­dated build­ings in the sub­urbs, build­ings of the state hous­ing au­thor­ity, tran­sit camps and slums sprawled on key land of the Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Fad­navis said, “Mumbai’s sub­urbs are rife with prob­lems, MHADA BUILD­INGS but the most ma­jor one is that the com­mon man is scared about leav­ing his house [for re­de­vel­op­ment]. He fears that once he leaves his home, he will never get it back. But we are com­mit­ted to our prom­ise of giv­ing this com­mon man relief.”

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