Stepping up the attack over controversial statements on Prophet Muhammed by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokespersons, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday claimed that the “fringe” was the BJP’s core, referring to the previous statements by top leaders to make his point.
In a tweet, Mr. Gandhi referred to earlier statements by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur and Lok Sabha member Sadhvi Pragya.
At the party’s official briefing, spokesperson Pawan Khera also referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s past statements about shamsaan-kabristan (cremation ground versus burial grounds) and identifying people by their clothes. He questioned Mr. Modi’s silence over the current controversy.
The Congress also questioned why Indian embassies were sharing BJP’s press release about the party respecting all religions after comments by now sacked BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal triggered a diplomatic row and prompted the Ministry of External Affairs to dismiss them as “fringe elements“.
“’Fringe’ is BJP’s core,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted while sharing headlines of news reports on statements by Mr. Shah, Mr. Adityanath, Mr. Thakur and Ms. Pragya.
In the image tweeted by the Congress leader, media reports quoted the Home Minister calling Bangladeshi migrants “termites” and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister saying that “women not capable of being left free or independent”.
Mr. Thakur is quoted as saying, “desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko” (shoot the traitors of the country)“. Ms. Pragya’s remark on Nathuram Godse is also mentioned.
“India is paying the price for BJP’s mistakes over many years. This is unacceptable! Zara Chronology Samjhiye: BJP spokespersons & Ministers spew venom on minorities and political opponents since 2015. No action. Instead, they are projected, protected and promoted. Two BJP spokespersons cross all limits. Some friendly countries along with others are furious leading to unprecedented diplomatic blowback. BJP Govt calls these spokespersons ‘fringe elements’ while it continues with many cringe elements,” senior leader Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter.
“Our embassies abroad distribute BJP’s apologies. Government keeps mum. Of course, Vishguru who is the inspiration and driving force behind these actions with a poisonous track record of over 20 years, keeps quiet,” Mr. Ramesh said.
Addressing mediapersons at the Congress headquarters, Mr. Khera said, “You haven’t heard the Prime Minster speak a word, you haven’t heard the Home Minister utter a word, you have definitely not heard Mr. Jaishankar speak on this issue of hate speech within the country”.
The Congress spokesperson alleged that not only the government ignored the warnings by intellectuals, retired bureaucrats and diplomats on hate speech, but it also silenced its critics by giving them different labels.
“The Prime Minister not just chose to be silent or to ignore this advice, he chose to use his echo system, parrot media to discredit these voices, demonise and silence them by labelling them as Khan Market gang, tukde-tukde gang, award wapsi gang and anti nationals,” Mr. Khera said.