BJP action against its spokespersons 'sham attempt at damage control': Congress
Congress termed BJP's action against two of its spokespersons over their remarks against Prophet Muhammad as "placatory". Jairam Ramesh said MEA calling BJP spokespersons "fringe elements" is a joke
The Congress on Sunday termed the BJP's action against two of its spokespersons over their remarks against Prophet Muhammad as "placatory", saying it came under duress following "threats from external powers" and exposed the saffron party's "muscular posturing".
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal on Sunday after their alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad.
Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the BJP of pushing India into a dark age of religious polarisation to "subserve its parochial political agenda in the short term".
"The placatory expulsion of two key members and spokespersons of the BJP from its primary membership, done obviously under duress of threats from external powers, exposes the much touted 'muscular posturing' and positioning of the BJP and the Modi government," Surjewala said in a statement.
"Is the BJP sincere in course correcting? Is the BJP trying to atone for its immeasurable sins or is it more chameleon-like posturing?" he asked.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the Centre calling BJP spokespersons "fringe elements" is a joke.
The remarks by the BJP spokespersons drew international attention, with Qatar's foreign ministry summoning Indian Ambassador Deepak Mittal and handing over an official note on "total rejection and condemnation" of the controversial remarks of a BJP leader against Prophet Muhammad".
"The ambassador conveyed that the tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements," a spokesperson of the Indian Embassy in Qatar said.
Reacting to the statement, Ramesh tweeted: "BJP has suspended two spokespersons after protests by Qatar government. This is what Americans call a good cop-bad cop routine. First, get your people to be obnoxious. Then act against them under pressure, to appear moderate. MEA calling BJP spokespersons 'fringe elements' is a joke!"
Congress's social media department head Rohan Gupta also tweeted: "Now Indian government calls BJP spokespersons fringe elements!"
Another Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said this fire must be doused as it is now gripping NRIs too.
"The way the BJP has adopted the phrase 'Ghar Phoonk Tamasha Dekhna' (making a spectacle after setting the house on fire), the head of every secular citizen of the country has bowed in shame. Now even non-resident Indians are coming under the grip of this fire. This fire should be doused immediately," the former Union minister said in a tweet in Hindi.
Amid protests by Muslim groups over the remarks, the BJP also issued a statement aimed at assuaging the concerns of the minorities and distancing itself from these members, asserting that it respects all religions and strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality.
"BJP's statement today saying, 'strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion' is nothing but a blatantly counterfeit pretence and sham attempt at damage control," Surjewala said.
"One thing is clear, it is a lesson to the virulent members of the BJP that they are nothing but fodders in this game of political grandstanding and that they can be used, thrown and discarded at the drop of a hat," he said.
The Congress leader said a short statement by the BJP is unlikely to heal the millions of wounds inflicted on the ethos of Indian-ness.
"Will the bulldozing of India's soul, its ethos and its all-encompassing humanity by the bulldozer of hatred finally stop? Will the mob-lynching of our constitutional ethos cease? Is repentance by the BJP and its leadership possible?" he asked.
Surjewala said the truth is that the BJP has pushed India into a dark age of religious polarisation to serve its parochial political agenda in the short term.
As a result, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians as also SCs, STs and OBCs have had to face the wrath of lumpen elements backed by State power, he alleged, adding that this cannot be the central theme of any political party.
"The BJP and its shenanigans have repeatedly and by design insulted India's centuries old civilisational ethos of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' by constantly pitting one community and religion against another to polarise, to divide and to spread hatred," Surjewala said.
He said the intrinsic character of the BJP and the Modi government is now founded upon religious violence, divisive conservatism and nurturing hatred to secure vote-bank politics.
"None less than the Prime Minister and the BJP Chief Ministers, of the ilk of Adityanath, have introduced a new political vocabulary of State sponsored division of society, i.e. 'Shamshan-Kabristan', '80 versus 20', 'bulldozer'," he said, adding that the language of politics during elections no longer centres around phrases like development, employment, progress, education, agriculture, irrigation, electricity, trade and business and infrastructure.
"It is now entirely centred upon creating, propagating, promoting and executing a wedge between religions and communities based on what they wear, what they eat, how they live, how they celebrate their religion or even how they speak," he said.
(With PTI inputs)