Narendra Modi today hit back at Farooq Abdullah for his remark that those voting for the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate should drown in sea, saying the biggest blow to secularism in India was delivered in Kashmir from where Kashmiri Pandits were forced out due to their religion.
Using a video message released by the CM's office to lash out at Abdullah, Modi said the Union minister has no moral right to preach against communalism as policies of his father Sheikh Abdullah, him and his son and Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah were responsible for communalising the state politics.
"If somebody has to drown then you should look at your (Abdullah) face in mirror. Put your father's face in front of mirror and ask this question. Those who have chased Kashmiri Pandits out have no face to preach against communalism," he said in a hard-hitting statement.
Invoking India's age-old tradition of secularism and syncretism, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, accused by critics of practicing Hindutva politics, said these high values are the best policies for India and it is his commitment to "take everybody along and develop all".
"I want to tell Farooq Abdullah that the thousands of years-old great tradition of secularism in India suffered its biggest and deepest blow in Kashmir. And this happened due to the politics of your father, due to your politics and due to you son's politics.
"Kashmir is the only place in this country where Pandits were evicted due to their religion. Kashmir was the land of sufi traditions... and it has been tarred with communal colour by you for selfish interests," Modi said.
Apparently referring to controversial statements, many by his aides, during the current campaign, he said Indian secularism is not so poor as to be affected adversely by some comments.
"Country is not going to deviate from its values of jai jagat (victory to world) and vasudaiv kutumbakam (world is a family)," he said.
Abdullah drew BJP's ire with his remarks on Sunday that those who vote for Modi should "drown" in the sea and also threatened that Kashmir will not remain with India if the country becomes communal.
In Delhi, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman also attacked Abdullah for his comments."Very clearly, Dr Abdullah first answer as to why in J&K the Constitutional Amendment which was made in India during Emergency making India into a secular republic, is not acceptable to him there," Sitharaman said.
She asked him why the National Conference, of which he is president, has not worked to make that amendment into the J&K Constitution till today.
"If that is not done, I think he should refrain from talking about communalism. They have not even taken a step to take back the Kashmiri Pandits, who have been cleansed out of the Valley, back into the Valley," she said.