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India: Insulting Remarks by Narendra Modi Regarding Persons with Disabilities Reflects a Whole Mindset

11 April 2014

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National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
4, Ashoka Road, New Delhi 110 001,
Email: nprd.in at gmail.com; Tel. 9868768543

April 11, 2014

Press Statement

The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) strongly condemns the views expressed by Shri Narendra Modi at Jamshedpur yesterday while campaigning for the BJP there.

It has been reported that the BJP’s Prime Ministerial aspirant, speaking at an election rally said that "the country does not want a deaf and dumb, handicapped government". The observations by Mr. Modi reflect a hackneyed mindset that is biased against persons with disabilities. Implicit in Modi’s statement is that persons with disabilities are "handicapped" and unable to discharge any responsibility let alone hold public office.

It has now become a habit for Modi to make such remarks. On an earlier occasion, he had called the former Chhattisgarh CM, Shri Ajit Jogi, a wheelchair user, a "cripple".

Patronising terms like "specially-abled", contained in the BJP’s manifesto, cannot hide the parochial mindset of the BJP, which promotes a model of development that works to the disadvantage of the marginalised.

It may be recalled that two years ago the BJP-backed candidate for the President’s office, Shri P.A. Sangma also expressed such insensitivity by stating that "India should have a President, who is not blind, dumb and deaf. India should have a thinking and a functional President."

We would like to remind the BJP leadership that there are any number of persons with disabilities, the blind and the deaf included, who have made sterling contributions in public life.

Whatever the provocation, even at the height of a bitter political campaign, usage of such terms to deride political opponents is unpardonable. Such insensitivity and callous remarks made with the intent of deriding your opponents cannot be condoned and go unchallenged.

The NPRD lodges its unequivocal protest against these insensitive remarks made by the BJP leader and calls for an unqualified apology from him. It urges upon the Election Commission of India to take suitable action against him for these uncalled for remarks, which are not just an insult but question the intelligence and capabilities of persons with disabilities.