Chandigarh: Opposition Congress today staged protests across Haryana against Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma for allegedly using objectionable language while referring to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Health and Sports Minister Anil Vij, who had recently hogged headlines over a series of tweets indicating that he was being sidelined in the Manohar Lal Khattar government, flared up the latest controversy when his comments were sought in the matter.
The controversy started when Sharma, speaking as chief guest at the three-day folk festival at Maharshi Dayanand University at Rohtak yesterday, narrated an anecdote in which two persons during a conversation used some cuss words while talking about Nehru. He was delivering a speech on the literary legacy of renowned Haryanvi folk artiste, Lakshmi Chand.
In a damage control act, he later apologised. “I did not mean to be disrespectful towards the country’s first Prime Minister. I was just using Haryanvi dialect and referring to conversation between co-passengers who had boarded a bus from Rohtak to Delhi when Nehru had passed away. If anybody’s sentiments have been hurt, I apologise for the same,” he told reporters in Panchkula.
Later, when was asked to comment on the language used by Sharma, Vij said, “Though Nehru was not a good man, still the Minister should not have used such words against him.” Congress was quick to hit out at the Manohar Lal Khattar government, saying use of such language by senior Ministers in the BJP government against national icons cannot be tolerated. The party held statewide protests, including in Hisar, Jind, Rohtak and other places, where its workers burnt Sharma’s effigies and demanded that he step down.