Row over Pitroda’s remarks refuses to die

New Delhi: The furore over Sam Pitroda’s “hua toh hua” remark refused to die down with the BJP and its allies condemning his statement and demanding his expulsion from the Congress.

The opposition criticism of the Overseas Indian Congress chief for his remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riot killings came despite Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s disapproval of the statement and his advise to him to apologise, which Pitroda did.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “His (Pitroda’s) statement clearly shows that they have no pain and grief for the massacre of Sikhs in 1984. This is why they did nothing to help the Sikh community.”

“If people like Sam Pitroda are Rahul Gandhi’s advisors, one can clearly assume about Gandhi’s thought process,” he added.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, another union minister, said, “Sam Pitroda’s statement was not because of poor Hindi. His words reflect the actual mentality of the Congress party. Now the truth has surfaced and there is no need to cover up.”

Shiromani Akali Dal leader and Union Minister Harshimrat Kaur Badal claimed that the NDA, unlike the Congress, has brought to the riots accused to justice. “Sam Pitroda should be ashamed for his words. I want to tell Pitroda that we did in five years what Congress could not do in last 34 years. As soon as the NDA came to power we made an SIT and all the cases were reopened. Now Sajjan Kumar is in jail for life,” she said.

Demanding the Congress to sack Pitroda from the party, JDU spokesperson KC Tyagi, said: “Sam Pitroda has become the symbol of objectionable and provocative statements. Congress should oust him. This is true that few Congress leaders were involved in the 1984 Sikh massacre.”

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari termed Rahul Gandhi instruction to Pitroda to apologize as ‘fake’.

He said: “Rahul Gandhi seeking apology (from Pitroda) is fake. This is a duplicate face of Rahul like sometimes he tries to become a fake Hindu. They apologize on any matter when they find it is turning against them.”

Union Minister Giriraj Singh, known for his controversial comments, however, declined to comment on Pitroda’s remark and said, “Gandhi family has not apologized for 1984 riots till the date. Rahul Gandhi and his family should apologize before the nation.”

Delhi BJP legislator Rajinder Pratap Singh, a Sikh alleged that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi let the riot happen to win elections. “Rajiv Gandhi wanted to win the elections that is why he allowed Sikh massacre to happen in 19840,” he said.

Citing the Nanavati Commission report, the BJP on Thursday said that “instructions to kill” came directly from the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s office.

In response to this, Pitroda, while rubbishing the allegations, had said, “I don’t think so, this is also another lie. It happened in 1984, so what? (1984 Hua toh hua).”

As criticism on this statement grew, Pitroda said that his remark was misunderstood as his Hindi is not good. NDA leaders, however, were not ready to buy his version and they maintained that his remarks reflect what the party thinks of the massacre.

The issue intensified after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday raised the matter at a rally in Rohtak accusing the grand old party of being insensitive towards the matter.

Congress and other United Progressive Alliance leaders sought to downplay the issue and maintained that Congress, as a party, has always done its best to deliver justice to the riot victims.

Clarifying that Pitroda’s words do not reflect that of Congress, former Union Minister PL Punia said, “PM Modi can say whatever he wants to but we know that Sonia Gandhi showed her immense grief on the issue. Congress is very clear about its stand on this issue. Pitroda also made this clear that because of his weak Hindi speaking skills, he was misunderstood. He wanted to say that “jo Hua so Nahi Hona chahiye tha’ (Whatever occurred should have happened).”

Backing Congress’ stand on the issue, NCP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Majeed Memon said: “His statement on Sikh riots is sending the very wrong message. Sam Pitroda should apologize for his words or explain himself what he meant exactly. Congress rightly distanced itself from this issue.”

Senior Maharashtra Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam said, “The Sikh riot was a very tormenting incident in the history. Former PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi have apologies in the parliament over this issue.”

He questioned PM Modi over the 2002 Gujarat riots during his Chief Ministership. “Has Narendra Modi ever apologized for the 2002 riots in which over 3,000 Muslims were killed?

Nirupam sought to distance Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath from the issue. “Kamal Nath has nothing to do with Sikh riots. PM is lying as he is frustrated,” he said.

It must be noted that PM Modi, on several occasions, has alleged Kamal Nath’s role in the massacre which took place following the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi by a Sikh bodyguard.

Former Union Minister Salman Khurshid argued that the issue should not be politicized as it is linked to the murder of the former PM.

He said, “This is a sensitive issue. Let us not forget that it is linked to the assassination of a former Prime Minister. Congress has always expressed grief and there is a limit to assuage the pain of victims in such type of incidents. Even if someone feels something can be done, Congress is ready to put balm on the wounds of the victims.”