NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Friday slammed the opposition party over comments made by senior Congress leader Sam Pitroda remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The Congress has distanced itself from Pitroda’s comments, and advised its leaders to be “careful and sensitive".
The development is crucial as it comes in the backdrop of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Polling for Delhi is scheduled on Sunday, and Punjab on 19 May.
“The Congress, which ruled the country for the longest time, shows how insensitive they have been with the three words that were spoken yesterday. This has not been said just like that. These words exhibit Congress’ trait, behaviour and intent. Those three words were ‘hua toh hua’," Modi said at a campaign rally in Haryana’s Rohtak.
“Yesterday, one of the tallest leaders of the Congress in a loud voice said ‘84 ka danga hua to hua’. Do you know who this leader is? He is one of the closest to the Gandhi family...this leader was a very good friend of (former prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi and ‘guru’ of Congress ‘naamdar’ (dynast) president (Rahul Gandhi)," Modi added.
Pitroda, the chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress Department, when asked about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, told reporters in Himachal Pradesh’s Dharamshala on Thursday that “84 mein hua to hua", which loosely translates as ‘so what, if it happened’.
Explaining his remarks, Pitroda on Friday tweeted: “I have noticed how 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."
The Congress, however, came out with a strongly worded statement distancing itself from the leader’s quotes and putting a word of caution. “Any opinion remark made by any individual to the contrary, including Shri Sam Pitroda, is not the opinion of the Congress party. We advise all leaders to be careful and sensitive. Congress party believes that justice should be done to 1984 riots victims as also to 2002 Gujarat riots victims," Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement released on Friday evening.
The Press Trust of India reported that the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on Friday sent a notice to Pitroda over his remarks and asked him to tender an unconditional apology towards the Sikh community.
Stepping up the pressure on Congress, senior BJP leaders, including finance minister Arun Jaitley, dared Rahul Gandhi to sack Pitroda.
“Sam Pitroda’s ‘Hua to Hua’ reaction to the 1984 Sikh killings is reflective of the lack of remorse on the part of Congress Party with respect to the 1984 genocide. Will the Congress President oust his ‘Guru’, who rubbishes the genocide of India’s most patriotic community in 1984?" Jaitley said in a series of tweets.