Amid the diplomatic fallout with over a dozen Gulf countries condemning the remarks, Indian ambassadors dismissed Shama and Jindal as “fringe elements”.
Even as the BJP suspended its spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled Naveen Kumar Jindal, its Delhi media head, in a fire-fighting exercise, amid severe backlash over the former’s remarks against Prophet Mohammad, the opposition objected to Indian ambassadors dismissing Shama and Jindal as “fringe elements”.
Amid the diplomatic fallout with over a dozen Gulf countries condemning the remarks, Ambassador Deepak Mittal said the comments “do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements.”
The MEA’s statement did not go down well with the opposition saying that the action against the two leaders was merely a fire-fighting exercise by the BJP.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who had earlier lodged a complaint that led to an FIR against Nupur Sharma, said that the suspension was a “sham”.
“FRINGE is MAINSTREAM. Backed by none less than @AmitShah. Is this why cops still haven’t arrested anyone? Suspension is a sham. Chota Savarkars were smug because of govt support. If Genocide Sansad gang was punished, BJP spokies wouldn’t have insulted Prophet PBUH on natl TV,” Owaisi tweeted.
“20 crore Indian Muslims’ religious beliefs were insulted. Rather than addressing their concerns, Modi et al were more afraid of a foreign backlash. Very unfortunate,” he added.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said that Sharma and Kumar were “not the original creators” of Islamophobia, adding that they were”trying to [be] more loyal than the king”.
“Domestic criticism did not impel the BJP to act against the two spokespersons. It was only the international backlash that pushed the BJP to take action,” the former Union minister tweeted.
The Congress called the BJP’s move “placatory” and highlighted that it only came when the party’s government faced “threats from external powers”.
Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused the BJP of pushing India into a dark age of religious polarisation to “subserve its parochial political agenda in the short term”.
“Is the BJP sincere in course correcting? Is the BJP trying to atone for its immeasurable sins or is it more chameleon-like posturing?” he asked.
“BJP’s statement today saying, ‘strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion’ is nothing but a blatantly counterfeit pretence and sham attempt at damage control,” Surjewala tweeted.
“None less than the Prime Minister and the BJP Chief Ministers, of the ilk of Adityanath, have introduced a new political vocabulary of State sponsored division of society, i.e. ‘Shamshan-Kabristan’, ’80 versus 20′, ‘bulldozer’,” he said, adding that the language of politics during elections no longer centres around phrases like development, employment, progress, education, agriculture, irrigation, electricity, trade and business and infrastructure.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the Union government calling BJP spokespersons “fringe elements” is a joke.
“The way the BJP has adopted the phrase ‘Ghar Phoonk Tamasha Dekhna’ (making a spectacle after setting the house on fire), the head of every secular citizen of the country has bowed in shame. Now even non-resident Indians are coming under the grip of this fire. This fire should be doused immediately,” former Union minister Shashi Tharoor said in a tweet in Hindi.
Sharma’s comments, made in a TV debate nearly 10 days back, and Jindal’s now-deleted tweets sparked a Twitter trend calling for a boycott of Indian products in some Arab countries.