National

BJP slams Pitroda’s ‘riot’ remarks

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 10, 2019 Published on May 10, 2019

Modi says comments show Congress’ arrogance, character

Congress strategist Sam Pitroda provided fodder for the BJP’s campaign pitch in Punjab, by his casual dismissal of the anti-Sikh riots in 1984, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlining the remark in the Sikh-dominated State on Friday.

The BJP also revealed that Punjab is the reason it has been gunning for Rajiv Gandhi of late, when it circulated the late Prime Minister’s infamous “when a big tree falls” reference to Indira Gandhi’s assassination, which was followed by the mass murder of Sikhs in North Indian States.

Pitroda’s comment, which he later said was “twisted”, dismissed the 1984 riots as “Hua toh hua (So what, it happened)”, added fuel to the BJP’s ongoing campaign against former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, at the beginning of whose tenure the anti-Sikh riots took place.

At a rally in Rohtak, Haryana, Modi led his party’s offensive on the Congress over Pitroda’s remarks, saying it showed the “character and arrogance” of the Opposition party. “The Congress, which ruled this country for the maximum period, has been so insensitive and that is reflected by the three words spoken yesterday. These words have never been spoken just like that, they are the character, mentality and intentions of the Congress,” said Modi.

Calls for apology

Pitroda, a close aide of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and the Overseas Congress’ head, had on Thursday said hua toh hua in response to a question on the riots by a journalist in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, where polling will take place on May 19. The BJP demanded that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Rahul apologise to the nation.

BJP ally Akali Dal’s chief, Sukhbir Singh Badal, and his wife, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur, said the comments were “disgraceful” and reflected the Gandhis’ mindset.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who had contested Lok Sabha elections in 2014 from Amritsar, said it is a matter of disgrace that the Congress had no remorse over the Sikh killings, and wondered if Rahul would “oust his Guru” for the remarks.

‘Distorting the truth’

Pitroda, on his part, accused the BJP of twisting his words to “distort facts, divide us (Congress) and hide their failures” and said things of the past are not relevant in this election.

“I have noticed how the BJP is again twisting three words from my interview to distort facts, divide us and hide their failures. Sad that they have nothing positive to offer… I acknowledged the pain of my Sikh brothers and sisters during difficult times in 1984 and deeply feel for the atrocities that happened,” he said.

This hardly silenced the BJP, with Modi leading from the front. At his rally in Rohtak, he repeated his accusations many times.

“Yesterday, one of the tallest leaders of the Congress said 1984 ka danga hua toh hua (1984 riots happened, so what)?’ This leader was a very good friend of (late) Rajiv Gandhi and he is the ‘Guru’ of Congress’ naamdar (dynast) President. They have no value for life,” said Modi.

In Hoshiarpur, Modi said in a rally that an “account would be taken” for 84 riots.

Jo hua toh hua nahin, ab pura hisab hoga (It will not be ‘so what it happened’. Now there will be proper accounting of what happened).

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Published on May 10, 2019
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