Row over Mani Shankar Aiyar's Pak atom bomb remarks; BJP says Congress 'apologist' of Pakistan

Aiyar said the video was old and dredged up now as the BJP's election campaign is faltering.
Last Updated : 10 May 2024, 16:41 IST
Last Updated : 10 May 2024, 16:41 IST

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New Delhi: Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's remarks on Pakistan sparked a political row on Friday, with his party quick to dissociate itself from the comments while the ruling BJP latched on to them, accusing the Congress of being an apologist for Pakistan and the terrorism emanating from its soil.

Aiyar said the video was old and dredged up now as the BJP's election campaign is faltering.

In comments which have gone viral on social media, Aiyar is heard saying that India should give respect to Pakistan as it is a sovereign nation and engage with it as it also possesses an atom bomb.

He indicated in the video that if a "mad person" comes to power there and uses the atomic bomb, it will not be good and will have its effect here too.

As the remarks triggered a row, the Congress said it totally disagreed with the remarks made by Aiyar some months ago.

Aiyar does not speak for the party in any capacity whatsoever, Congress media department chairperson Pawan Khera said on X.

"Indian National Congress dissociates itself completely from and disagrees totally with some remarks made by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar a few months back which have been revived today by the BJP in its attempt to deflect attention from Prime Minister Modi’s daily goof ups. Mr Aiyar does not speak for the party in any capacity whatsoever," Khera said.

He also posted a video of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and said, "If old videos are to be used, here is a not-so-old video where the External Affairs Minister is publicly advising India to be afraid of China."

Latching on to Aiyar's remarks, Union Home Minister Amit Shah slammed the Congress for "raising question mark" on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and asserted that every inch of it belonged to India and no force could snatch it.

"Mani Shankar Aiyar is telling us to respect Pakistan as it possesses an atomic bomb. A few days ago, INDIA bloc leader Farooq Abdullah said do not talk about PoK as Pakistan has an atomic bomb.

"I want to tell the Congress and the INDIA bloc that PoK belongs to India and no force can snatch it," Shah said at an election rally in Jharkhand's Khunti.

Senior BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is also a Union minister, said Aiyar wants India to fear Pakistan and give it respect.

The "new India" does not fear anyone, he said, claiming that Aiyar's comments have highlighted the intentions, policies and ideology of the Congress.

"The Congress under Rahul Gandhi has become an apologist and defender of Pakistan and its terrorism," he told a press conference at the BJP headquarters here.

Chandrasekhar cited recent comments of more Congress leaders to make his point.

The leader of opposition in Maharashtra, Vijay Wadettiwar had said that IPS officer Hemant Karkare was killed by a cop affiliated to the RSS and not Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab and former Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi had dismissed a recent terror incident in Poonch in which an Air Force official died as a poll stunt, he noted.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh had suggested that the Mumbai terror attack was an RSS conspiracy, he alleged, adding that the grand-old party acts, talks and behaves like an apologist for Pakistan's terrorism.

Asked about Aiyar’s remarks, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, at a press conference in Hyderabad, said India is 100 times stronger than Pakistan.

It was Indira Gandhi who liberated Bangladesh, he said, adding the first nuclear test at Pokhran was also conducted during her leadership.

Kharge alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah are talking about non-election issues and abusing the Congress as they are worried after three phases of the Lok Sabha polls.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit back at the BJP over the row and asked why was Pakistan being discussed when elections are taking place in India and the unemployment rate here is at a 45-year high.

In an interview with PTI in Amethi, she asked the BJP to fight the polls on real issues.

Published 10 May 2024, 16:41 IST

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