In a gap of five days, prime minister Narendra Modi has denounced communal violence twice. Speaking from the ramparts of Red Fort on the Independence Day, he sought at least a ten year moratorium on caste and communal violence for the country's progress.
Modi's unscripted speech espoused unity, brotherhood and peace, as it did last Saturday while addressing the BJP's national council. But, just two days ago the BJP fielded hardliner Yogi Adityanath to participate in a debate on communal violence in Lok Sabha. The tenor of Adityanath's words were apparently not in sync with prime minister.
Party sources who denied a disconnect or double-speak between government and party, said the Gorakhpur MP was politically countering the Congress allegations of riots after BJP came to power.
The prime minister refrained from political bellicosity or jingoism in his first Independence day address. "We see violence on the basis of religion and caste. How long? Who is benefiting? We have fought enough, killed enough. If you look back, you will find that nobody has gained anything.... It took us to even Partition..... I appeal that for the sake of country's progress, there should be a 10 year moratorium on violence, at least for once, so that we are free from these ills. We should have peace, unity and harmony. Have faith in my words. If we give up the path of violence and adopt the path of brotherhood, we will make progress," he said. Modi asked the youth who have taken to terrorism and Maoism to give up the gun and take the plough.
Hailing the speech, party chief Amit Shah said it was a day of pride for the BJP to see one of its workers unfurl the national tricolour.
"Atal Bihari Vajpayee also hoisted the flag as a BJP worker. But the difference between him and Narendrabhai is that the BJP government has a majority," he said.
Senior party leader LK Advani, who followed the tradition of unfurling the flag at his residence, said, "I am happy that our prime minister decided not to deliver a written speech, but to speak extempore, its impact has been good."
Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said the "heart-to-heart speech will inspire and motivate people of the country to connect with each other for making and moving India on the path of unity, integration and development."
Just six days ago, at the BJP national council met to ratify Shah as party president, Modi had said "a single instance of violence is unacceptable to BJP because we believe that peace, unity and brotherhood are essential pre-conditions for growth and, so, there will be no compromise on this. However, those who suffered massive defeat have not learnt."
The remarks came at a time when Congress was alleging increase in riots, insisting on a discussion on it. During the debate on Wednesday, Adityanath had said, "Hindus, when threatened, must be prepared to organize themselves and fight back."
There was unease in certain quarters of BJP about the content of Adityanath's speech at a time when the prime minister was following the slogan of "sabka saath, sabka vikas", sources said.