In a comment that could court controversy from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Saturday said before 2014 he never imagined that a person who referred to Muslims as puppies would one day become the Prime Minister of the county.
Speaking at the inauguration of ‘Enough With intolerance National Campaign’ event at India International Centre in the capital, Aiyar said that when Narendra Modi was asked if the loss of Muslim lives in the 2002 Gujarat riots upset him, Modi replied, “Even if a puppy comes under a car, I will feel the pain.”
He further accused PM Modi of staying away from the Muslim refugee camp for 24 days after the Gujarat riots. Modi visited the Shah Alam mosque in Ahmedabad only when the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came, as it was the necessity for the protocol, he further alleged and said he had never thought that such an individual can become the prime minister.
He went on to mention former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s contribution in promoting secularism. “Our first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru taught us the real definition of nationalism. I learned from him that majority communalism is worst than minority communalism. He taught us that we can either be secular or cannot remain one single country,” Aiyar added.
He further said, “I am proud of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and I am very proud of Muslims. Muslims ruled India for 666 years from the throne of Delhi. From Muhammad Ghori in 1152 to Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1858 – Muslims ruled India but we remained a large nation. During this vast period, only 24 per cent Hindus converted to Islam and 76 per cent did not.”
Interestingly, the years from 1152 to 1858 totals to 706 years and not 666 years as mentioned by Aiyar.
Aiyar has been a member of both houses of Parliament. He has also served as Union Cabinet Minister under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the first tenure of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2004. Aiyar was suspended from the primary membership of the Congress party in December 2017 after his “neech” remark on PM Modi courted a major controversy.