Days ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament when the government is likely to push for the passage of a bill against instant triple talaq, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked Congress for being a party which stood only with Muslim men.
"The real face of these parties was revealed by their approach on triple talaq," he said at a public meeting here, part of his two-day visit to eastern Uttar Pradesh.
On one side the Centre is making efforts to ease and improve the lives of women and on the other these parties are working to put the lives of women, especially Muslim women, in danger, he said criticising the opposition.
"Crores of Muslim women had always demanded that triple talaq should be banned, as it is also banned in Islamic countries," he said.
I read in the newspaper that the Congress president had said that the Congress is a party of Muslims, and there has been discussion on this for the past two days, he said in an apparent reference to Rahul Gandhi's recent meeting with Muslim intellectuals.
I am not surprised as when Manmohan Singh was the PM, he had said that Muslims have the first right over natural resources, Modi said.
"But I want to ask the Congress whether it is a party of Muslim men alone," he added.
The criticism comes ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament where a bill abolishing instant divorce among Muslims, already passed in the Lok Sabha, is pending in the Rajya Sabha.
Congress and some other opposition parties have expressed reservations on the bill, and the ruling BJP has accused them of trying to stall it.
"Is there any place for the dignity and the rights of Muslim women? They have stalled legislation in Parliament, and they do not allow Parliament to run," Modi said.
"These dynastic parties are toiling to oust Modi. I want to tell them that there are still four or five days left for the Parliament session to begin. Meet the victims of talaq and halala, ask them about their plight, and then put your point of view in Parliament," he said.
The prime minister was in Azamgarh to lay the foundation stone for the 340-km Purvanchal Expressway which will connect Lucknow with Ghazipur at a cost of Rs 23,000 crore.
Modi then left for Varanasi to address another rally and inaugurate a slew of development projects. He will visit Mirzapur tomorrow.
In the 21st century, these political parties are living in 18th century, he said, continuing his attack.
"When the BJP brought the anti-talaq legislation, these parties had put hurdles even then. They want that triple talaq should continue, and the life of Muslim women should remain miserable. But I assure you that I will make these political parties understand, and take them along so that Muslim women do not face any problems due to triple talaq," he said.
He said people should cautious of these parties and their leaders.
They cannot do any good for the people. For the BJP government, the country is a family and above everything else, he said.
Modi hit out at the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party, saying that in the name of Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia they have done only politics.
"These parties which could not see eye to eye in the past have joined hands now. Do you know why? They want to stall the development work by the government. Will you allow this?" the prime minister asked.
They had sought votes from the poor, the Dalits and the backwards, and after forming the government they filled their own coffers and have done nothing else," he said.
He said because of the policies of the previous governments, eastern Uttar Pradesh had languished.
Hours before Modi laid the foundation stone for the Purvanchal Expressway, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav sought to take the wind out of his sails by claiming it was his own government's project which was being relaunched.
"This was originally Samajwadi Purvanchal Expressway, but the word Samajwadi has been dropped," the Samajwadi Party chief told a press conference at the party headquarters in Lucknow.
Yadav claimed that the "relaunched" project settled for lower standards and has cut down on amenities like service lanes and lights.
At the prime minister's rally, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attacked the SP, saying that in the name of `samajwad', the party was practising nepotism and hooliganism.
On Akhilesh Yadav's remarks, he said the erstwhile SP government had floated tenders for the expressway without acquiring land or even taking an environment clearance.