‘MEA calling BJP spokespersons “fringe elements” a joke
By Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday took a swipe at BJP’s “muscular posturing” after the saffron party acted against two of its spokespersons over their offending words against Prophet Muhammad following “threats from external powers”. It also said the Ministry of External Affairs calling BJP official spokespersons “fringe elements” is a joke.
Following a strong reaction in the Arab world coupled with summoning of Indian envoy by Qatar’s foreign ministry, the BJP was compelled to suspend its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal who made derogatory remarks against the last prophet of Islam a week ago.
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”. In a statement, Congress’ communication chief said, “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.”
“Is the BJP sincere in the course of correcting? Is the BJP trying to atone for its immeasurable sins or is it more chameleon-like posturing?” he asked.
Congress leader and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said the Ministry of External Affairs calling BJP spokespersons “fringe elements” is a joke. 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!”.
The BJP spokespersons’ comments gained international notice, prompting Qatar’s foreign ministry to call Indian Ambassador Deepak Mittal and deliver an official note expressing “complete rejection and condemnation” of a BJP leader’s outrageous comments 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.
On the other hand, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said this fire must be doused as it is now gripping NRIs too. The former Union minister said in a tweet in Hindi: “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 Qatari action is seen as a big embarrassment for the Modi government as the Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu is in the Gulf nations on an official trip.
In response to Muslim organisations’ protests, the BJP issued a statement intended at assuaging minorities’ concerns and distancing itself from these individuals, claiming that it respects all religions and firmly condemns insults to religious personalities.
Surjewala said that 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.
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.
“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’,” and “ Garmai nikalana( make submissive) , 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.
Meanwhile, former Rajya Sabha parliamentarian and BJP leader Subramanian Swami took on the Modi government after it succumbed to the pressure of ‘tiny Qatar’. He tweeted: During Modi govt’s 8 years, Bharat Mata had to hang her head in shame because we crawled before the Chinese on Ladakh, knelt before the Russians, meowed before the Americans in QUAD. But we did shastangam dandawat before the tiny Qatar. That was depravity of our foreign policy.