Opposition seeks Assam CM’s apology

Youth Congress workers protest near Shastri Bhwan in New Delhi on February 13, 2022.

Youth Congress workers protest near Shastri Bhwan in New Delhi on February 13, 2022. | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s comment against Rahul Gandhi is a new low in political discourse and he must “atone” for his unpardonable words by quitting office, former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said on Sunday as several Opposition leaders slammed Mr. Sarma and asked him to tender a public apology.

But a defiant Mr. Sarma, in a fresh tweet, said India is not just a union of States but “Bharat is our Maa” and claimed questioning the Army was is an insult to the mother.

Mr. Sarma’s tweet said: “Is it wrong to stand by our great Armed forces? Let’s not question their patriotism. Don’t seek proof of what they did for the country. India is not just a union of states. ‘Bharat’ is our Maa, not just a motherland. Questioning the jawans is an insult to our Maa!” He added that the Congress had spared no effort to “abuse and question” the late General Bipin Rawat.

The controversy began on February 11 when Mr. Sarma, while addressing an election rally in Uttarakhand, claimed that Mr. Gandhi had demanded proof of the Indian Army’s surgical strikes against Pakistan and went on to say that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had never asked for any proof on whether or not he [Mr. Gandhi] was the late Rajiv Gandhi’s son.

“It is a childish and condemnable statement. For sake of power, he [Assam Chief Minister] went to BJP and now speaks the language of the Prime Minister and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, who always indulge in character assassination,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and veteran Congressman Mallikarjun Kharge told the news agency Asian News International.

“I never expected such remarks from him. A Chief Minister should know when and what to say,” Mr. Kharge added.

“HimantaBiswaSarma’s remark regarding @RahulGandhi’s paternity is shameful beyond words. This new low in political discourse tells us where our democracy is headed. Sarma should publicly apologise to the nation and atone for his unpardonable words by quitting his office,” the former Law Minister said, a day after Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao asked the BJP to remove Mr. Sarma.

The Shiv Sena’s Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha, Priyanka Chaturvedi, took to Twitter to allege that Mr. Sarma’s personal attacks were a result of his bitter parting with the Congress. She tweeted: “Himanta Biswa Sarma continues to defend himself saying that Mr Gandhi questioned the surgical strike, which again is a lie. Also, even for a moment, let’s say he did, does it give you a free pass to abuse his mother? Have some respect for your constitutional position and apologise.”

On Sunday, Mr. Sarma put up screenshots of news clippings that claimed Congress leaders like Kamal Nath, P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal had asked for proof of the 2016 surgical strikes. However, as Ms. Chaturvedi pointed out, there was nothing on Mr. Gandhi himself.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 3:31:14 pm |