Former Union Minister Arun Shourie today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of deliberately maintaining silence on incidents like Dadri lynching while his ministerial and party colleagues kept the issue "alive" merely to win Bihar elections.
He also agreed with the suggestion that Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were pitting one community against another in Bihar and cited a Pakistani analyst to say that while the neighbouring country was trying to get out of the pit, India was slowly going down its way.
The former BJP insider attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's defence of Modi that he was the worst victim of intolerance since 2002, saying this was the worst defence he had heard and Modi "in his mind will get the fullest justification for being vengeful".
Coming out in support of writers, authors and artistes returning their awards against the "climate of intolerance", he told Karan Thapar on India Today channel that they are "conscience-keepers" of the country and their motives cannot be questioned.
Praising scientists like P M Bhargava and Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy, who have expressed concern over these incidents, Shourie questioned how these people can be called rabid, a term used by Jaitley.
These people have contributed immensely to the country and those who attacked them have not read a book in the last 20 years. "Those who cannot write two paragraphs are sitting in judgement over writers."
Rejecting BJP leaders' oft-repeated statements that the Prime Minister cannot be expected to speak on any and every issue, Shourie said he was exactly doing that and not speaking on issues he should.
"Prime Minister is not a section officer of the homoeopathy department. He is not head of a department. He is the Prime Minister. He has to show the country the moral path. He has to set moral standards," he said.
Shourie referred to Modi's tweets on issues like Union Minister Mahesh Sharma's birthday soon after Dadri lynching James Cameron's birthday, the stampede in Mecca and the blast in Ankara.
"But he kept silent on the Dadri incident and incidents like killing of two Dalit children (in Haryana) while his men. He is keeping silent while his party colleagues and ministers are keeping the issue alive," he said, asserting that Modi's silence was more deliberate than ignoring them.
Asked if Modi's silence was political, he said "I think so". "You can't have it both ways. You are a very strong leader but cannot control your members."
Referring to Sharma's controversial comments on former President Abdul Kalam being a nationalist despite being a Muslim, he said allotting him the house in which Kalam lived was like "spitting in the face of people". "This is really symbolic."
To a question, he said it was all intended to win Bihar elections at any cost.
Modi does not realise the consequences of his silence and this fire will not only burn him but the whole country, he said, adding these issues will strain the social fabric of the country.
With his speeches in Bihar in which he accused grand alliance leaders of plotting to steal the quota for OBCs, SCs and STs and hand it over to Muslims, Modi had lowered himself to the level of Lalu Prasad while Nitish Kumar looked like a statesman, Shourie said.
He also rejected Shah's statement that crackers will be burst in Pakistan if BJP loses in Bihar and said in fact things were different now. In this context he quoted a Pakistani analyst to say crackers were already being burst there as Modi was the best thing to have happened to it.
Referring to the killing of a Kashmiri truck driver in the Jammu region on suspicion of cow smuggling, Shourie said unnecessarily such incidents gave a handle to secessionists.