NEW DELHI -- Attacking BJP chief Amit Shah for describing Mahatma Gandhi as a "chatur baniya", Opposition parties today demanded that he should apologise to the nation and insisted that the "denigrating" remark is withdrawn.
The parties also alleged that the comment "exposed" the BJP's "contempt" for the father of the nation.
Taking strong exception to the remark, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Rather than fighting casteism, they (BJP) identified even the father of the nation with his caste. This shows the character and ideology of the ruling party and its president. Where will these people take the country?"
"We demand that Amit Shah, BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to the country, the families of freedom fighters and every citizen for insulting the freedom movement... and the father of the nation," he said.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC president Mamata Banerjee said Shah "should withdraw his comment and apologise for it. It is a deliberate act. It is unfortunate, uncalled for and unethical".
CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy echoed Banerjee's views on the issue.
"As father of the nation everybody should respect Mahatma Gandhi. Calling a leader respected world over as a baniya is in bad taste," he added.
CPI national secretary D Raja said Shah, being president of the ruling party, should be aware of the language to be used while describing a leader of Gandhi's stature.
"We have no problem when he criticises Congress or other opposition parties (during political discourse). But dragging Mahatma Gandhi's name, using such a language is denigrating Gandhi," Raja said.
According to former CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Shah only revealed the BJP's actual opinion about Gandhi.
"It just reveals the contempt the BJP-RSS has for Gandhiji," he said.
The BJP chief had yesterday referred to Mahatma Gandhi as a "chatur baniya" (a clever Baniya - the trading caste) while addressing a gathering in Raipur.
Shah's also said the Congress had never been a party based on principles and it was merely a "special purpose vehicle" to secure freedom.
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