Shakeel Ahmed says narrative would be different if Chhota Rajan, Anup Chetia were Muslims .
New Delhi : After former ministers Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid ignited controversies with their utterances on Pakistan, Congress general secretary and spokesman Shakeel Ahmed has brought the level of public discourse to a new low by raising the issue of notorious gangster Chhota Rajan and ULFA commander Anup Chetia and relating it to their not being Muslims. If Mani Shankar Aiyar’s comment – ‘‘Remove Modi for Indi-Pak peace’’ — wasn’t enough, party colleague Shakeel Ahmed hogged head-lines early on Wednesday by tweeting, ‘‘Thankfully Chhota Rajan and Anup Chetia are not Muslims. Had they been Muslims the Modi government would have had a different narrative altogether.’’Ahmed’s comment provoked predictable outrage from the BJP and several spokespersons of the party not only condemned the remarks but demanded an explanation from Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The Congress leader’s comments also led to a high voltage debate on the social media.
As the tweet obviously implied that the government dealt differently with terrorists and criminals of different religions, BJP leader and union minister Prakash Javadekar accused the Congress leader of resorting to blatant communal politics. ‘‘Bringing religion in everything, as Shakeel Ahmed had attempted, is the policy of the Congress party. I always say the Congress is the most communal party of the country,’’ Javadekar alleged. BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli demanded that the Congress leadership, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, should declare if Shakeel Ahmed’s thought was the official line of the Congress. ‘‘You have Mani Shankar Aiyar and his outrageous comments in Pakistan and now Shakeel Ahmad. Is this the official line of the Congress party? And such senior leaders and still no response from Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi,’’ Kohli said.
As the BJP battles open dissidence and unease within the party over the Bihar debacle, the comments of Aiyar and Ahmed have given the party an opportunity to deflect the attack towards the Congress leaders. The controversies have also provided ammunition to the ruling party to corner the Congress as the government gears itself for a stormy Parliament session next week.
PTI ADDS: Lambasting the Congress leader, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Ahmad had made a “very appalling and shameless comment” by trying to discriminate among even terrorists on religious lines. Ahmad, however, said he was simply trying to expose the “double standards and double speak” of the BJP and the Modi government on the issue of terror. Patra recalled that a few days ago, another Congress leader, Mani Shankar Aiyar, was trying to give “excuses” over the IS attack in Paris.
Clarifying his comments, Ahmad further said, “Had they (Rajan and Chetia) been Muslims, the BJP would have said that the Congress government or the UPA government did not arrest them and did not bring them back to the country simply because they were Muslims. They would have said that the Congress and the UPA were thus trying to resort to vote bank politics. That is why I made that remark. I have tried to expose the double standards of the Modi government and the BJP.”