Bengaluru: Martin Luther King III, human rights activist and son of civil rights movement icon Martin Luther King Jr, on Friday likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to US President Donald Trump as the two leaders coming to power in their respective countries had created an atmosphere of animosity against minorities.
King III, whose father championed the rights of black Americans in the mid 20th century, said both countries are led by individuals who have limited regard for the poor and disinherited.
“Like Donald Trump’s campaign, the election of Modi has unleashed a ferocious animosity against minorities.Parallels abound between the ‘allt-right’ in the US and the ‘hindu-extreme right’ in India," King III said in Bengaluru on Friday.
King III was in Bengaluru to inaugurate the Dr. B.R.Ambedkar International Conference-Quest for Equity.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah and scholars from India and abroad were present for the event.
Similarities between Trump and Modi have been raised in the past as well, as various groups state that the two leaders pander to the extreme right and their coming into power has emboldened fringe groups to unleash its agenda against minorities.
Reports of Dalits and Muslims being attacked by fringe elements in the guise of protecting the cow has gripped headlines for many months now.
Meanwhile, Gandhi continued his tirade against Modi and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as he accused right-wing groups such as the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS) of wanting the country to surrender its voice.
“What is happening today is the systematic capture of India’s democratic institutions. By the PM, bureaucrats and RSS," Gandhi said.
“The emperor is completely naked but nobody around him has the courage to tell him," Gandhi said, while adding that there was a ‘strangulation of reality’ by the government.
Gandhi inferred on Rohit Vemula and Mohammed Akhlaq, whose deaths have become a rallying point to highlight the growing number of atrocities in the country.
“They say Rohit Vemula committed suicide. I call it murder. He was murdered by the indignities he suffered. He was killed because he was a Dalit," he said.
Vemula killed himself on the Hyderabad Central University campus after being removed from the hostel, while Akhlaq was lynched by a mob in September 2015 after villagers in Bisada (Dadri district) in Uttar Pradesh accused him of stealing a calf.
“Today we are being told that being a good Indian means we have to ignore the inequality and exploitation in our midst," Siddarmaiah said.
“Today the idea of India as a plural society is crossroads.Values that our civilisation and culture held in high esteem are facing a critical test in view of the onslaught of divisive and exclusivist ideas," Siddaramaiah said on Friday.
He said the deliberation of speakers at the conference would help Karnataka launch the ‘Bengaluru Declaration’, which will outline specific constitutional, institutional and policy responses to the concerns of social justice, human rights, freedom and democracy.