Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of assassinated Indian Prime Minister Sanjay Gandhi, lashed out at prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Tuesday, accusing him of playing “petty politics” over her “martyred” father.
Modi, leader of India’s conservative Baharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and three term governor of India’s Gujarat state, immediately pounced on the attack as an elitist slight against the vast majority of Indians in the caste conscious nation.
“Socially,” said Modi in a tweet issued shortly after the Gandhi quote made news, “I belong to the lower caste, hence my politics too will come across as being low level to them. “It is this ‘low level politics”, he continued, “that will help India rise from 60 years of misrule and wipe the tears of many.”
“That ‘low level politics'”, Modi thundered, would be the very “power that will help transform India into a prosperous and powerful nation.”
Modi mocked Gandhi’s criticism as just so much rank snobbery from India’s heriditary ruling and cultural elite. It through the “martyrdom” of tens of millions of “ordinary Indians” from the “backward sections” that created modern India into an important and growing global power; a power Modi promises to enhance if elected Prime Minister.
In other Indian campaign news, speaking at the swank PEN Word Voices literary festival in New York City, India’s famed and controversial novelist Salman Rushdie jumped aboard the anti-Modi bandwagon to warn that the proudly lower caste governor would herald an “era of bullying” in India.
“You already see even more worryingly a kind of self-censorship setting in”, Rushdie was quoted as saying in the Times of India, “people worry that they are going to be bullied and therefore try not to do anything that will attract the wrath of the ‘Modistas'”.
Rushdie called Modi a “highly divisive figure” and a “hardliner’s hardliner”.