Gandhi was 'chatur baniya', Congress mere SPV for freedom: Shah

Gandhi was 'chatur baniya', Congress mere SPV for freedom: Shah

BJP president Amit Shah dubbed Gandhi a ‘bahut chatur baniya’, a reference to the Mahatma’s mercantile caste, sparking a political row.

The Congress and other Opposition parties have demanded an apology.

Shah made the reference to Gandhi’s caste while telling a select audience in Raipur on Friday how the bahut chatur baniya (very shrewd baniya) had rightly called for the dissolution of the Congress after Independence. He also said the Congress was not rooted in any ideology or principle, and was sort of a “special purpose vehicle” to secure freedom.

Facing flak, Shah on Saturday said his comments were understood by those who were present at Friday’s gathering.

“Those present during the programme heard my comments and the reference in which they were made. AICC spokesperson Randeep Surjewala is yet to answer about many principles of Gandhiji,” Shah told a press conference in Raipur when asked about Surjewala’s demand for an apology.

At Friday’s event, Shah had said, “The Congress party was constituted as a club by a British man. It was later converted into an organisation engaged in the freedom struggle.” It had in its fold both Right and Left-leaning people like Maulana Azad, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya and many others, he added.

“People of various ideologies and thinking associated themselves with the Congress to gain Independence. The Congress didn’t have any ideology or set of principles and it was only used as a special purpose vehicle to secure freedom.

“And therefore, Mahatma Gandhi, with a lot of foresight — he was a very shrewd baniya — he knew what was going to happen in future. He had said immediately after Independence that the Congress should be dissolved,” the BJP chief said. “Gandhi couldn’t do that, but now some people are completing the task of dissolution of the Congress,” Shah added, in an apparent jibe at the present Congress leadership.

Shah is on a visit to Chhattisgarh since June 8.

Leading the Opposition charge, Surjewala demanded an apology from Shah, the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Amit Shah, who himself is a trader of power, is today saying that the freedom movement was a business model. But in reality, before Independence, Britishers used the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha as a special purpose vehicle for the partition of the country,” Surjewala charged. Surjewala said Shah’s remarks were “an insult to freedom fighters and also to Gandhi”. 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee termed the comments “uncalled for and unethical”. 
Former CPM general secretary Prakash Karat also hit out at Shah, saying his remarks reveal “the contempt the BJP-RSS have for Gandhiji”.

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