Mathura/New Delhi: Taking a dig at his critics and the opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that 'for some, hair stands at the mention of words like 'Om' and 'Cow'.'
The Opposition slammed Modi's remark, asking him to talk about the economy instead, and get alarmed when people are killed in the name of the cow.
Modi was in Mathura for the launch of a nation-wide programme to save livestock from the foot and mouth disease, delivering 600 million vaccine shots to farm animals over the next several years.
Modi said, "It is unfortunate that for some their hair stands at the mention of words like 'Om' and 'Cow'. They think that the country will now go back to the 16th century".
Earlier, he was also seen patting a cow here or caressing a calf there, videos of which hold a huge significance for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) both at the centre and in Uttar Pradesh and the entire Hindi heartland where the 'cow' is more than an animal.
Modi was subtly but clearly pandering to his cow belt voters.
Beginning with Radhey, Radhey, a customary greeting in the Brajbhoomi' around Mathura, Modi promoted cleanliness, spoke against single-use plastic and invoked the 9/11 attack on America this day 18 years ago to indirectly condemn Pakistan for nurturing terrorism.
"In the life of rural India, animal husbandry is very valuable. Can a family in a village survive without it? But I don't know why some people get an electric shock on hearing the word," Modi said.
Why not talk of economy?
In Delhi, the Congress said the remarks were any attempt to "divert and digress" from the state of the economy. CPI general secretary D Raja agreed.
"He is saying this at a time when in the name of cow and God, mob lynchings are happening unabated across the country, Raja told PTI.
AIMIM chief Assaduddin Owaisi said people do not just hear 'Om' and 'cow' in India but also the call for prayer from mosques, voices from gurdwaras and bells from churches.
Nationalist Congress Party MP Majeed Memon said Modi is the prime minister of a secular country and he should not refer to religious matters too often.
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)