A BJP minister in Uttar Pradesh has demanded to shut down all the madrasas in the country because they “produce only terrorists”, prompting accusations that the saffron party is attempting polarisation ahead of the 2022 Assembly elections.
“If God blessed me ever, I would shut down all the madrasas in the country. The madrasas are dens of terrorists, training centers for terrorism. Whoever studies there becomes a terrorist,” said Raghuraj Singh, chairperson of the state labour and employment committee in Aligarh on Wednesday evening.
Talking to reporters, the minister claimed that the number of madrasas in UP had increased to 22,000 from 250 in some unspecified past. However, did not cite the source of the purported data.
“They produce only terrorists,” Singh said, who has hardly ever been in the limelight before.
Even after more than 24 hours later, there has been no official clarification from the Bhartiya Janata Party.
“From which madrasa did Nathuram Godse get the training of terrorism to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi?” asked Surendra Singh Rajput, a State Congress spokesperson.
A Hindu Mahasabha member, Godse had previously been with the RSS, the BJP’s ideological parent.
Several Muslim clerics and opposition parties slammed Singh for his remarks. “The BJP has nothing to show the voters ahead of the Assembly elections and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Expectedly, they are trying to divert the voters’ attention to communal issues,” Anurag Bhadauriya said.
Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra tweeted, “UP pre-poll polarisation is back. UP Minister says ‘I would shut down all madrasas in-country…madrasas are dens of terrorists…Whoever studies there becomes a terrorist.’ Which madrasa did Nathuram Godse attend btw?” She asked.
Hitting back at the minister, a Muslim cleric said, “Many, who studied in the madrasas, had fought for the freedom of the country….the minister should read history before making such a statement….he must be sacked immediately.”
“They will say more such things ahead of the elections. Soon, they will start speaking more and more against Pakistan, kabristan (graveyards), and mosques to win the votes of the fanatics,” said Om Prakash Rajbhar, President of Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party and a former BJP ally who tied up with the Samajwadis in 2019.