NEW DELHI : Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has dared the opposition and critics to show a single act of divisive agenda pursued by the Modi government and distanced the BJP from actions of fringe Hindutva elements and cow vigilantes. He also said the opposition parties are instigating social tension but felt that the law must be strictly enforced against "gau rakshaks" or those who indulge in violence in the name of religion.
Questioning detractors about their charge of divisive agenda pursued by the BJP or the government, Naidu told IANS in an interview: "Show me one act where government has done anything divisive in three years. You are creating an impression in the minds of the people. Internationally also, you are trying to spoil the image of India for your political benefits."
"There is a party, the party speaks for policy, the government speaks for policy. I am asking same thing, such things were happening earlier. Why are they being discussed now? It was wrong then. It is wrong now. Law and order is a state subject," Naidu asserted.
On violence in the name of cow protection, Naidu said: "Gau raksha (cow protection) is important but manav raksha (human protection) is more important... Law must be upheld and law enforcing agencies have to take action."
The minister, a former BJP president, was replying to questions about criticism of the government over the actions of fringe elements belonging to the Sangh Parivar involved in cow vigilantism and controversies like Love Jihad.
Referring to political killings in Kerala, Naidu said: "Even my people are killed by CPI-M cadres. Then is Modi responsible? Some rationalists were killed in Karnataka, there is a Congress government. Social problems have been there since Independence."
He said the government was trying its best to keep things under control but the "opposition has taken the route of creating an impression that all is not well.
"We are trying our best. These opposition parties are trying to create social tension by raising divisive issues. You celebrate Afzal Guru, Yaqoob Memon, Maqbool Bhat and you do not want anybody to criticise them.
"You condemn the Indian Army, you do not want anybody to speak in favour of the Army. That is the problem. Social problems like triple talaq, is it because of Modi," Naidu told IANS.
Naidu sought to dispel an impression that the BJP was trying to rake up the triple talaq issue -- a problem of instant divorce among Muslims -- for political gains.
"On triple talaq, people are saying why should you interfere. My point is the society should come forward. The Prime Minister called the community leaders to come forward to stop exploitation of Muslim women. Some people are saying Hindu samaj me bhi hai (even Hindu society is facing problems)," he said, adding the Hindu society had gone into the issue and had taken corrective measures by seeking to abolish child marriage and dowry while sati was completely eliminated.
He said violence was there even during the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh when Dadri and other incidents happened.
"Am I responsible for this? What is this? This narrow approach of trying to portray the BJP in a negative way. I am not denying. There are some people who made some irresponsible statements but we disowned them. Law must take its own course."
Asked for his reaction to criticism about the Environment Ministry's order placing restrictions on cattle slaughter as an imposition of a Sangh agenda, the Minister said the critics should go through the Supreme Court judgment which had laid down rules for transportation of cattle.
Speaking about the performance of the Modi government which has just completed three years, he said the country was now convinced that it has an able leader and a stable government.
"First of all we need to understand the backdrop or the background of how the Modi government took the reins of power. There was total despondency in the country. Administration, law and order, rule of law, getting government services were all under despondency due to lack of leadership, indecisive leadership and the directionless-government.
"Then there was an economic situation where we had a fiscal deficit, revenue deficit, trade deficit, current account deficit and overall trust deficit.
"Today, the country is convinced that they have an able leader and a stable government. There is a decisive government which takes decisions. There is a government which is working for all. The government which is corruption-free.
"Today, it is an aspirational India. People have regained the hope that 'yes, we can move forward, we will all be benefited, we have a bright future'. That is the biggest contribution of the Modi government in the last three years."
Naidu said because of Modi's leadership, India regained the stage in the comity of nations and is now recognised, respected and being heard.
He said the economy was back on the growth path in spite of a global slowdown and China going a little negative.
"India is positive. It is the most favourable destination for investors. This year itself, we got Rs 4 lakh crore investment. We have the highest foreign exchange and the lowest inflation. By and large, all is under control.
"I will describe it as mood of the nation going with Modi," he told IANS.
He said public resources, which were looted earlier and were the cause of corruption, were now being auctioned.
"The government got Rs 391,000 crore (from these auctions). The Prime Minister has got a fundamental grasp of each and every issue and he is taking the nation forward. That is why even after three years and after two bad monsoons, the government has seen rapid economic development. Earlier, it used to be red tape but now it is red carpet for investors."
He said Modi's call against corruption and black money had created a positive environment in the country.
People were sceptical about demonetisation earlier but now they have realised that it was part of the fight against corruption, he said.
Naidu said six initiatives on unearthing black money had resulted in 64,275 declarations of unaccounted wealth aggregating to Rs 65,250 crore.
"Another positive side of demonetisation is that 9.1 million people have joined the tax net."
He said the opposition was saying that the demonetised money of Rs 15-16 lakh crore have come to banks.
"I say they have come back to banks with an address."
Naidu, who is also Minister for Urban Development and Housing, said under the Housing for All scheme, the NDA government has sanctioned 1,773,533 homes against one million houses sanctioned in 10 years during the UPA rule. "Of course, the execution has to be done by the state."
He said the Modi government was "alert, sensitive" and that has created "a fear of law now which was missing earlier".
- V.S. Chandrasekar and Sarwar Kashani