Aiyar, Khurshid draw BJP ire for ‘seditious’ remarks in Pak

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 18, 2015

Former Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said on a Pakistani news channel that the PM “must be removed” for ties between the two countries to progress

Former External Affairs Minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid (left), during a tour of Islamabad, criticised Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistan policy

M VENKAIAH NAIDU Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister

Venkaiah, Javdekar demand action from Congress President Sonia Gandhi

BJP on Wednesday upped the ante on Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid’s recent utterances on India-Pakistan relations, with Union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Prakash Javdekar terming the remarks “seditious and anti-national” and demanding an apology and action from the Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress dismissed the BJP’s attack saying the two leaders, both Ministers in the UPA government, had “clarified” their statements. “Aiyar was commenting on the approach of the two governments with respect to dialogue. Khurshid has also clarified his statement. The matter should end there,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

Comments on Pak television

Aiyar had stoked controversy by reportedly saying on Pakistani television that Prime Minister Narendra Modi needed to be removed if talks between the two nations were to resume. Khurshid had criticised the NDA government for adopting a tough stance towards Pakistan.

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of a function here, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the comments were “highly objectionable and anti-national”.

“…Going to a foreign country and calling upon the people to overthrow a democratically elected PM is nothing but sedition. The Congress should condemn these remarks and take strongest possible action against these two people. They are not ordinary people to be brushed aside. They were ex-ministers and spokesmen of the Congress party. This shows the level of the frustration of the party and its leaders,” said Naidu.

He said the remarks by Congress leaders would “disgust” any patriotic Indian. “Aiyar’s attempt is clearly aimed at destabilising the democratically elected government led by Shri Modi. To say so on a foreign soil is even worse and amounts to clear act of treason,” he said.

‘Betrayal of the country’

Javadekar wondered if the Opposition party approved of their remarks and demanded an apology from Gandhi. “Does the Congress approve of Aiyar’s remarks? If the two leaders are not forthcoming, then the Congress President should apologise,” Javdekar said at the BJP headquarters. “The way Khurshid and Aiyar are singing paeans of Pakistan and denigrating the Prime Minister’s office is unacceptable. They are playing with the sentiments of the people who are seeing their action as a betrayal of the country. They are free to disagree with us in India but not on foreign soil,” he said.

‘What has Congress done?’

Countering the Congress’ criticism of its handling of the Kashmir issue and Pakistan, Naidu said, “If it is so simple for the Congress, they should explain to the people why, in the last 50 years, they have not resolved the Kashmir issue through peaceful dialogue. Why have they not successfully stopped Pakistan from supporting these terrorist organisations? Congress must exhibit its sincerity by taking action against these two people [Aiyar and Khurshid].”

Javadekar also accused Congress of practicing the “worst” kind of diplomacy, pointing out to Indo-Pakistan joint statement at Sharm-el Sheikh during the UPA’s tenure in which a reference to Balochistan was made.

‘Communal statement’

He also termed as “highly communal” the comments of Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed in which he allegedly linked action against underworld don Chhota Rajan and ULFA leader Anup Chetia to their religion. “Congress looks for religion in every possible action, even in crimes. This is their policy,” the Union Environment Minister said.

He accused the Congress of creating the Kashmir tangle.

“It was during Congress rule that part of Kashmir was occupied by Pakistan. Congress was in power at Centre for so many years. It should now explain why the Kashmir issue was not resolved and peace was not restored between India and Pakistan all these years,” he said.

Published on November 18, 2015
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