Political row erupts over Khattar's remark on Muslims and beef

Political row erupts over Khattar's remark on Muslims and beef

A political row erupted today over Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar's reported comments that Muslims can live in the country but will have to give up eating beef with Congress calling it unconstitutional and a "sad day" for India's democracy.

As the remarks sparked an outrage, BJP dissociated itself from Khattar's views, calling it "wrong" and asserted this was not the party's stand while AAP demanded sacking of the Chief Minister.

Khattar on his part sought to do damage control, saying his words have been distorted but he was ready to express regret if he has hurt the sentiments of people.

"My words have been distorted. I never made such a statement. But if the sentiments of anyone have been hurt with my words, I am ready to express my regret," Khattar said.

The Chief Minister's Advisor Jawahar Yadav said that Khattar never made such a statement in the interview given to Indian Express.

"The Chief Minister has himself denied that he made such a statement. He did not say what has been published by a newspaper," he said.

The newspaper later released an audio tape of Khattar's interview in which he's heard making the controversial statement.

In the interview carried by the newspaper, Khattar had said, "Muslims can continue to live in this country, but they will have to give up eating beef" because "cow is an article of faith here".

Coming close on the heels of controversial statements made by a few BJP leaders over the lynching of a Muslim by villagers in Dadri over rumours that he had eaten and stored beef, Khattar's reported comments invited a backlash from the opposition parties.

"Sad day for India's democracy! CM Khattarji will now decide qualifications for Indian citizenship. Is this new model of governance Modiji?" Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked, taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav attacked BJP, saying its leaders keep taunting Muslims and ask them to go to Pakistan but what will they do with people in northeast where beef is eaten?

"They will have to understand that India is not Europe or China. It is a diverse country," he said.

Another Congress leader Rashid Alvi said Khattar's comments were unconstitutional and he had no right to continue as the chief minister.

"The views expressed by Khattar are not that of the party. I will talk to him and will advise him. It is wrong to say like that," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told PTI, adding that it is not correct to link anyone's eating habits to religion.

"This is not the BJP's position.... It is not correct to link eating habits to religion. People have to keep in mind the sentiments of others and eating is a personal choice of people," he said.

Jawahar Yadav said the Chief Minister has himself denied that he made such a statement.

"He did not say what has been published by a newspaper. The CM has said cow is a subject of faith for crores of people in the country.

"Khattar had given an example of his recent visit to Mewat where Gau Shalas are being run by Muslims and where some people expressed views that Muslims should avoid eating beef," he said.

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