Curious case of Modi’s religious greetings and what he must learn from Justin Trudeau

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday greeted people around the world on the Holy month of Ramadan.

Speaking during his monthly radio address, Modi said, “On the start of Ramzan, I convey my greetings to people across the world.”

His tweet read, “Greetings on the start of Ramzan. May this holy month enhance the spirit of togetherness, peace & harmony across the world. (sic)”

Once again, Modi cleverly skipped to specifically address the Indian Muslims while wishing them on their religious occasion.

In 2016 too, Modi’s Ramadan greetings had said, “As the holy month of Ramzan commences, I convey my greetings to the Muslim community. May Ramzan deepen the bond of brotherhood and the spirit of harmony in our society.”

There was nothing personal about it. It sounded more like a ticking the box exercise than a prime minister truly wishing the second largest religious group of his own country.

Modi ought to watch the video of the Canadian prime minister’s Ramadan greetings for Muslims living in Canada.

In his Ramadan greetings, Justin Trudeau spoke emotionally about Canadian Muslims even though he’s a practising Christian.

And as if this was not enough, Trudeau posted the video of his Ramadan greetings in French too.

Unlike Trudeau or many other current and former heads of states, Modi has always avoided any ceremonial links while wishing Muslims on their festivals or reacting to their religious occasions. Hia greetings have carried emotional touch only when extended to non-Muslim faiths, at least that’s the theme one gets after trawling through his past Twitter timelines and public messages.

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Last year, on the occasion of Janmashthami, Modi said, “Jai Shri Krishna, Janmashtami greetings to all.”

On Durga Puja, Modi, who’s the first prime minister to proudly flaunt his Hindu identity in what’s been historically known as secular India, had said, “May Goddess Durga shower her blessings on us and enrich our lives with joy and prosperity.”

He did not stop here. His next message said, “With Goddess Durga’s blessings, may good always prevail over evil & may all forms of injustice be removed from our society.”

This was not the first time Modi was wishing Indians by using the names of the personalities or deity whose messages or story they believed in.

While greeting Christians during Easter last year, Modi wished the community by invoking the ‘teachings of Jesus Christ.’

He tweeted, “Easter greetings to everyone! May the teachings of Jesus Christ further the spirit of harmony, compassion & togetherness in our society.”

The same year, while wishing the Christian community on Christmas, Modi once again reminded them about the ‘teachings of Jesus Christ.’

He wrote, “Merry Christmas! We remember & celebrate the life & teachings of Jesus Christ. His message of peace, unity & compassion inspires us all.”

However, when you compare his greetings extended on Muslim festivals, it shows a trend of a head of the state still ‘harbouring’ dislike for India’s largest community.

Unlike Jesus Christ or Goddess Durga, Modi has never felt the urge to mention Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) while wishing Muslims on their prophet’s birthday.

His message on Eid Milad-un-Nabi last read, “Greetings on Milad-un-Nabi. May this occasion deepen the spirit of harmony & unity in our society & may there always be peace & prosperity.”

In 2015, a year after he took charge of office, his message to Muslims (although he once again refrained from addressing the community by their name) was almost identical. Once again, no mention of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

From Moscow, he wrote, “On the occasion of Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi greetings to you all. May this festival deepen the bond of brotherhood & compassion in society.”

No prime minister in the past has ever flaunted his or her religious identity so brazenly. It’s not to suggest that Modi’s predecessors have been less religious, but they respected India’s secular credential and rightly stayed away from making any attempt to show the religion they practiced was superior to others.

This doesn’t hold true in Modi’s case. His public refusal to sport an Islamic skull cap was not an act in isolation. This, in a way, gave indication to his future attitude towards India’s largest minority in time to come, particularly after becoming the prime minister.

You put these episodes in context coupled with his silence on Dadri, Alwar, Bulandshahr etc and you can comfortably conclude that this prime minister’s concern for Muslims is fake and he should not be trusted when he says he truly cares about Indian women on  the issue of triple talaq. In short, he’s the most anti-Muslim prime minister the secular India has ever had.

Modi’s reluctance in being remotely close to anything Islamic is nothing new. He’s merely representing the aspirations of his sizeable constituencies of bigots, who have issues with the presence of Muslims or their festivals in India.

This is what happened when a journalist from News18 India decided to greet Muslims on Ramadan.

Clearly, Awasthi’s followers were disappointed with him that he wished Muslims on their Holy month.

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