In an impassioned outreach to Dalits against the backdrop of the Una flogging incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today decried the attempts to politicise the issue and said he is ready to get "shot and attacked" in place of his Dalit "brothers".
He also stressed that society should not be allowed to be divided on the basis of caste and community.
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused gau rakshaks of creating "tension and conflict" in the society, the RSS on Sunday asked people to "expose" a handful of anti-social elements spreading violence and trying to disturb social harmony in the name of cow protection.
"If you want to attack, attack me, not my Dalit brothers. If you want to shoot, shoot me, not my Dalit brothers, stop politics over Dalits. This game should stop," Modi said in an aggressive way, while addressing a public meeting of polling booth workers of BJP at a "Maha Sammelan" at Lal Bahadur Stadium in New Delhi.
His comments come at a time when the NDA government is facing flak over incidents of violence against Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes in various states including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The Parliament also witnessed stormy scenes over the issue. BSP chief Mayawati demanding that Modi should break his silence on the issue and accused him of being apathetic to the concerns of the community.
Without naming opposition parties, Modi said, "I know why a storm is being created against us these days. Because, these people believed they are the owners of Dalit vote. Dalit community is in their pocket".
"They fear that if Dalits understood the welfare measures initiated for them by the BJP-led government, this party (BJP) cannot be removed (from power) for 50 years, and it would end their divisive politics," he added.
Noting that unity of society is the mainstream and main strength of the country's development, the Prime Minister said sometimes some incidents (atrocities against Dalits) surface which make our heads hang in shame.
"What is the reason? Why are Dalits being attacked?," he asked and added that it is the responsibility of everybody to protect, and give security and respect to Dalits, oppressed and exploited.
The RSS meanwhile asked people not to link such "condemnable efforts" of "a few opportunists" with those truly serving and protecting cows.
Some anti-social elements at a few places are taking law into their hands and perpetrating violence to disturb social harmony. This has raised questions about the pious work of 'gau raksha and gau sewa' (cow protection and service), RSS General Secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi said in a statement.
"RSS appeals to all citizens that they should not link these condemnable efforts of a few opportunists with those devoted to the pious work of serving and protecting cows and expose them," he said.
"We also request the state governments to take strict action against such elements and not let the good work of 'gau raksha and gau sewa' get hampered," the statement said.
Noting that India is primarily an agricultural country, Joshi said at a time when the whole world is facing problems because of increasing use of pesticides, the importance of organic farming, in which livestock play a crucial role, has grown further, the statement quoted him as having said.
The appeal from BJP's ideological mentor came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi came down heavily on "fake cow protectors" at a public meeting in Telangana and asked states to take stringent action against them.