In a recent interview with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, News 18 anchor Rubika Liyaquat questioned the PM on his remarks about Muslims in a speech in Rajasthan’s Banswara on April 21. Rubika asked PM Modi, “When you mentioned Muslims on stage, why did you need to say things like ghuspethiyo (infiltrators) and zyada bachche wale (those having more children)?” Modi responded to her question by saying, “I am surprised. Who has told you to link Muslims to every conversation about producing more children? Why do you treat Muslims unfairly? Poor families in our country face the same struggles. They cannot provide education for their children. Whenever there is poverty, no matter the religion, there are more children.

The journalist further asked PM Modi if there was no connection between ‘Muslims’ and ‘those who produced more children’ in his speech. PM Modi refuted the allegations of ever speaking about the Muslims. “I have mentioned neither Hindus nor Muslims. All I have said is that you produce as many children as you can look after. Make sure they don’t become the government’s responsibility.” When asked if Muslims would vote for him, he stated, “I believe that the people of the country would vote for me. On the day I engage in Hindu-Muslim politics, I will no longer be fit for public life. And I will not indulge in such politics, this is my resolution.” He went on to speak about ‘100% delivery’, which means that PM Modi would provide basic amenities for every person in the society regardless of their religion. He called this ‘true secularism’. Journalist Rubika Liyaquat then proceeded to list the basic amenities that Muslims had received, using herself as an example.

To sum up, the Prime Minister made two claims in the 1.52-minute statement in response to the question on his remarks about Muslims. These are

  • He did not refer to Muslims while speaking about ‘those who produce more children’ and ‘infiltrators’.
  • He has never indulged in the Hindu-Muslim rhetoric in his speeches.

Claim I: “Did Not Refer to Muslims”

In what was widely considered an openly communal speech, PM Modi used the words ‘those who produce more children’ and ‘infiltrators’ in Banswara, Rajasthan, on April 21. While replying to a specific question about both the remarks in the above interview, the PM chose only to refer to the former and stressed that he did not refer to Muslims while talking about ‘those who produce more children’. In his response, Modi did not touch upon the infiltrators (‘ghuspethiyon’) remark.

Around the 35:17-minute mark in his Banswara speech, PM Modi alleged that the Congress manifesto spoke about the distribution of property among the population. He stated that Congress would take away their gold and ‘mangalsutras’. Around 36:50, Modi said, “When they were in power, they had said that Muslims had the right to the properties of the state. This means that they would collect these properties and give them to the ones who produce more children” When put in context, it is clear that PM Modi referred to Muslims while making the ‘those who produce more children’ remark.

He then continued, “They will give it to the ghuspethiyo. Do you want to give away your hard-earned money to the intruders? This is what the Congress manifesto says — we will measure the amount of gold your mothers and daughters own and distribute their wealth. They will distribute their wealth…(smiles) Manmohan Singh ji had said Muslims had the first right over the properties. Brothers and sisters, this urban naxals mentality won’t even spare your mothers’ and daughters’ ‘mangalsutras’. This is how low they will stoop.”

If one listens to PM Modi’s speech carefully, it becomes evident that his remarks at the Banswara event were communal and divisive, to say the least, and both the words/phrases ‘ghuspethiyo’ and ‘jinke zada bachche hain’ referred to Muslims. PM Modi’s assertion during the News 18 interview is, therefore, false.

Claim II: “Never Indulged in Hindu-Muslim Rhetoric”

Banswara was not the only occasion where Modi vilified Muslims in his speeches.

Three days before the News 18 interview, he gave a speech in Chatra, Jharkhand, where he openly targeted Muslims. The official YouTube channel of the BJP uploaded a video containing a part of the speech with the title, “झारखंड में तेजी से बढ़ रही घुसपैठियों की संख्या” (Translation: Number of infiltrators increasing rapidly in Jharkhand). In the clip, he first indulges in scaremongering saying that the Opposition coalition would take away the reservations from SCs, STs and OBCs and give it to Muslims. Minutes later, he refers to Muslims as ‘ghuspethiyo’ or ‘infiltrators’.

Two days after the Banswara speech, Modi addressed a rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk-Sawai Madhopur constituency where he dwelt on the theory of a Congress-Muslim nexus for over 15 minutes in a speech that lasted for 35 minutes. Pertinently, just after the publication of the Congress manifesto, Modi had called it the manifesto of the Muslim League. In Tonk, he urged his audience to vote for the BJP to make sure that Ram Navami could be celebrated and Hanuman Chalisa could be sung in the state. He also stated, “You know that they have written in the manifesto that there will be a survey of ‘stree-dhan‘ and ‘mangalsutra’ owned by our mothers and sisters… and then all your wealth which is in excess of your need will be confiscated and distributed. If you have two homes, one will be taken away.”

Again at an election rally in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh on May 7, Modi asserted that people would have to choose if “Vote Jihad” or “Ram Rajya” should be the way forward for the country. He also said that people of a particular religion were being asked to vote unitedly against Modi.

“Terrorists in Pakistan are threatening jihad against India. And here, those in the Congress have also announced to do vote jihad against Modi…that means people of a particular religion are being asked to vote unitedly against Modi. Imagine what level the Congress has stooped to,” he said during his speech, alluding to Samajwadi Party leader Maria Alam’s controversial appeal for ‘vote jihad’.

In fact, PM Modi’s rhetoric of ‘Muslims producing more children’ can be traced as far back as 2002. Then the Gujarat chief minister, Modi had called Muslim relief shelters “baby-making factories”. At a public meeting as part of his Gaurav Yatra in Mahasena district on September 9, Modi stated, “What brothers, should we run relief camps? (referring to relief camps for riot-affected Muslims). Should I start children producing centers there, i.e relief camps? We want to achieve progress by pursuing the policy of family planning with determination. We are 5 and our 25! (Ame panch, Amara panch, referring to the practice of polygamy among a section of Muslims). On whose name is such development pursued? Can’t Gujarat implement family planning? Whose inhibitions are coming in our way? Which religious sect is coming in the way? Why money is not reaching the poor? If some people go on producing children, the children will do cycle puncture repair only?”

Again in 2019, during a public rally in Dumka ahead of 2019 Vidhan Sabha polls in Jharkhand, dog-whistling against Muslims, Modi said that those who had been protesting against CAA were identifiable by their clothes. “Yeh Congresswale aur uske saathi… halla macha rahe hain, toofaan khara kar rahe hain. Aur unki baat chalti nahin hai to aag janee phaila rahe hain. Jo aag laga rahe hain, TV pe unke jo drishya aa rahe hain, yeh aag lagaane vaale kaun hain, woh unke kapdon se hi pata chal jaata hai.” (Congress and its allies are creating a chaos, raising a storm. And if that fails, they are spreading a fire. From the visuals on TV, those setting the fire can be identified by their clothes).” Dumka was one of the most important seats in the state as the chief minister candidate of the Congress-JMM-RJD alliance, Hemant Soren, was fighting from that seat as well as from Barheit.

Again, ahead of the 2019 general elections, at a rally in Nanded on April 6, Modi played the Muslim card, when he slammed Rahul Gandhi for fighting the elections from Wayanad, by saying, “Congress ke naamdaar ne microscope lekar bharat mein ek aisi seat khoji hai jahan par woj muqabala karne ki taakat rakh sake. Seat bhi aisi jahan par desh ki majority minority mein hai. (The Congress leader used a microscope to find out a safe seat for himself to contest from and selected a seat where the majority is in minority).”

Therefore, the second claim made by Prime Minister Modi in his conversation with News18’s Rubika Liyaquat — that he has never indulged in Hindu-Muslim rhetoric — is unfounded and false as well.

In earlier reports, Alt News has documented how the PM’s Banswara address contained disinformation and was a textbook example of hate speech.

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About the Author

Student of Economics at Presidency University. Interested in misinformation.