I Think You Accidentally Gave Respectability To ISIS, Jaitley Tells Azad

14/03/2016 1:10 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks during a press conference in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, July 5, 2011. Azad derided homosexuality as an unnatural "disease" from the West at an HIV/AIDS conference, drawing outrage Tuesday from a U.N. official and activists who said the comments set back campaigns for gay rights and against HIV. In a hastily called news conference Tuesday evening, Azad said he was misquoted, though video of Monday's speech has aired repeatedly on Indian television. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

New Delhi -- The BJP and the Congress sparred in the Rajya Sabha on Monday over remarks of Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, allegedly comparing Hindutva outfit Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) with terrorist organisation Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), even though the Congress leader issued a clarification to his furious opponents.

Azad said that his remarks were taken out of context and lost in translation.

"This is the CD of my speech. If anything wrong is found in it, you can move a privilege motion. I request the BJP parliamentarians to go into a room to listen to this CD," said Azad, before reading out the part of his speech about the RSS that stoked a political controversy.

This is the CD of my speech. If anything wrong is found in it, you can move a privilege motion.

"For the BJP, everyone except the BJP and the RSS are terrorists. The intolerance you show outside, you are showing inside Parliament as well," he added.

Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rubbished Azad's clarification, saying the Congress leader must introspect and admit what he said.

"I think you (Azad) accidently gave respectability to ISIS in your speech which you should have avoided. You must understand what ISIS is and what it is capable off," he said in the Rajya Sabha.

Azad had on Saturday kicked a row after he allegedly sought to draw a parallel between the RSS and ISIS, evoking sharp responses from the Hindutva outfit and the BJP, which demanded an apology from him.

I think you (Azad) accidentally gave respectability to ISIS in your speech which you should have avoided.

"So, we oppose organisations like ISIS, the way we oppose RSS. If those among us in Islam too do wrong things, they are no way less than RSS," he said in the Rajya Sabha at an event organised by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind.

While the ruling party and its ministers wanted Azad to withdraw his controversial remarks and apologise, the Congress leader denied drawing any parallel between the two and said he was submitting a CD of his speech to the government and is willing to face privilege motion if anything wrong was found.

After Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi slipped in a reference to the alleged remarks by Azad while giving government's response to concern by members over remarks by RSS leaders' on continuation of reservation, Azad read out the verbatim speech he made at an event organised by Jamait Ulama-i-Hind last week.

He said he had in the speech stated there was no fight between Hindus and Muslims in India but a fight on ideology.

Ruing why Muslims were joining a terrorist organisation like ISIS that is destroying Islamic traditions, Azad said he had stated that "we oppose to organisations like ISIS like we oppose RSS."

Also, "if someone in Islam does wrong, they are no less than RSS," he said. "Where is the comparison," he asked. "If I had said ISIS and RSS are same" there would have been a comparison.

He said he had stated that Hindu, Muslim and Sikh fundamentalists have to be fought as they are against the country. "We have to fight them all together."

Earlier, when SP and BSP members raised the issue of RSS leaders yesterday talking of reservation being based on economic criteria, Naqvi said Azad's comparison of RSS with ISIS was "great old party's grand new secular formula."

"Atankio ko phool ka guldasta aur rashtrawadion par hamla (bouquets to terrorists and attack on nationalists)," he said and demanded an apology from the Congress party for the comparison. As Azad got up to respond, he was interrupted by treasury benches including ministers.

"Please behave like educated persons," he said to them asking them not to bring inside the House the "intolerance they show to criticism outside".

"Everyone who is not RSS or BJP is a terrorist to them," he said displaying a CD that he said contained his speech.

He said he has submitted the CD to the Leader of the House and was laying it on the table so that it can be shown to the BJP members and ministers.

"Please bring privilege motion seeking my removal" if after watching the whole CD, anything objectionable is found in it, he said.

Azad, reading his earlier speech, said he had spoken of Hindus, judges and journalists who were fighting for secularism. All forms of fundamentalism must be resisted, he said.

"In the fight for secularism, you will find people from all sects and religions but not in fundamentalism," he said.

After the clarification, the House took up other business.

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