Parties slam Rahul over ISI remark

BJP petitions Election Commission

Parties slam Rahul over ISI remark

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s comments that a Pakistani spy agency had tried to lure Muzaffarnagar riot victims into terrorism have kicked up a political storm, eliciting sharp criticism from parties and Muslim clerics.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi said Rahul has defamed the Muslim community, while the Samajwadi Party said such remarks could create hatred among the community. BJP leaders have submitted a complaint against Rahul to the Election Commission for indulging in “divisive politics” and accused him of violating the model code of conduct. 

Rahul, at election rallies in Rajasthan’s Kherli on Wednesday and Indore on Thursday, claimed that following the Muzaffarnagar riots, many Muslim youths were in touch with the ISI. 

The BJP claimed that Rahul’s remarks violated the Election Commission’s guidelines which say criticism of other parties or workers based on unverified allegations or distortion should be avoided and “there should be no appeal to caste or communal feelings to secure votes.”

The Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) also criticised Rahul. 

“Nobody has a right to question anybody’s nationalism. If some people are in touch with Pakistan for anti-India activities, they should be dealt with as per the law. But to drag the whole community into it is an insult to Muslims,” JD-U spokesperson K C Tyagi said.

Rahul’s whirlwind campaigning ahead of polls in five states has seen high-pitched emotional outbursts. The Gandhi scion also compared the performance of NDA and UPA governments. His remarks appear to be part of a strategy to get across the party’s message against the “evil designs” of the BJP.

Haryana Minister and Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala came to Rahul’s defence. “Rahul Gandhi acted as a responsible political leader by speaking the truth and forewarning people of those seeking to divide communities. Going beyond politics, he has forewarned the youths and countrymen,” he said.
Congress General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed said: “Only two sets of people rejoice at communal riots in the country, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the BJP.”
Addressing a rally in Jhansi, Modi wondered how intelligence agencies could have “reported” to Rahul Gandhi and briefed him on such sensitive matters. He said if the government has information about the ISI being in touch with the youth in Uttar Pradesh, it should act instead of “just giving the news”.

Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal said the remarks have put a question mark on the Muslim community. CPI’s Atul Anjan said by making such statements, Rahul was trying to generate hatred for the Muslims. 

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde refused to comment. 

Meanwhile, Muslim clerics called Rahul’s statement “most unfortunate”.

Maulana Saif Abbas Naqvi, a prominent Shia cleric, said such statements not only painted the Muslim community in bad light, but also strengthened communal forces. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, senior vice-president of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, said anyone who casts aspersions on the integrity and loyalty of minorities was doing a great disservice to the country and the Muslims.

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