New Delhi | BJP ally Ramdas Athawale, the chief of Republican Party of India on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been “falsely portrayed” as anti-Muslim, describing him as someone who believes in politics of development.
He also took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi, saying the Congress president should “dream” of becoming Leader of Opposition rather than the prime minister. He said he wants Gandhi to remain president of the Congress party as it would “benefit the BJP and Narendra Modi ji”.
Athawale took charge as Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment for a second term on Monday.
Prime Minister Modi has been falsely portrayed as anti-Muslim, he said. “He is not so.” “The anti-Muslim image of Modiji was portrayed following the 2002 Godhra riots when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat,” he said.
“But I have seen his movie and the character that is being shown is not anti-Muslim. Modiji does not believe in doing politics based on caste and religion but on development. People also understand this and that is why around 50 per cent of the Muslims in the country voted for him. Modi is not anti-Muslim and anti-Dalit,” he said, without naming the film.
He said it is imperative on any government to support and help every Indian citizen irrespective of their religion, he said. On relations with Pakistan, Athawale said India cannot be friends with it as “it considers India its enemy”.
Taking a potshot on Rahul Gandhi, Athawale said, “It would be in the interest of the BJP and Modiji if he continues to be the Congress president for a longer period. The Congress should not replace him with any other leader as that would cause more damage to the party.”
He said there was a time when the BJP had just two members in Parliament. “Then there was a time when the BJP had no MPs. But now BJP’s time has come and the Congress should allow it to work,” Athawale said.
He said Gandhi’s remarks on Modi during campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls got the Congress leader negative publicity which ultimately led to the defeat of his party.