Opposition targets BJP, demands tough action against Nupur Sharma
The opposition on Sunday attacked the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) for its inaction for a week after its national spokesperson, Nupur Sharma, made objectionable remarks about Prophet Mohammad. The ruling party's statement that it opposes any "ideology that insults or demeans any sect or religion" was a "blatantly counterfeit pretense" and a "sham attempt at damage control," the Congress stated on Sunday.
Why does this story matter?
- The BJP's clarification and Sharma's suspension occurred on Sunday when Arab nations' outrage over the remark exploded on social media with trending Twitter hashtags and calls to boycott Indian goods.
- Notably, Sharma has also been named in several police cases for her remarks in Maharashtra and Telangana.
- Sharma has now apologized after denying any wrongdoing and even claimed to have received death threats.
Opposition tears into BJP over the controversy
According to the Congress, the action against Sharma was taken "obviously under duress of threats from external powers," exposing "the much-touted muscular posturing and positioning of the BJP and the Narendra Modi government." Akhilesh Yadav, the chief of the Samajwadi Party, has urged the BJP to take "legal action" against Sharma. Other opposition parties shared these sentiments, claiming that the suspension was a ruse.
What exactly did Sharma say?
During a recent debate on the Gyanvapi Mosque row on a TV channel, Sharma stated that because Muslims were insulting the Hindu faith by calling the unearthed Shivling, a fountain, certain aspects of their religious scriptures may be mocked as well. She then made a mention of Prophet Muhammad's marriage, too. Her remarks sparked uproar and elicited responses from religious organizations and political parties.
What was the BJP and Indian government response?
Notably, the BJP suspended Sharma for her remarks and ousted Naveen Kumar Jindal for supporting her on Sunday, and has conclusively separated itself from their viewpoints. Meanwhile, the Indian government has stated that it "respects all religions" and dismisses the remarks as "fringe elements' views."
AAP, TMC attack Sharma
Taking a shot at Sharma, Saurabh Bharadwaj of AAP stated that he sympathizes with her as she faces punishment for the hatred that the BJP spreads on daily basis. "This is unjust. This is doublespeak," he tweeted. "BJP's national spokesperson is now fringe element? What about the party? The fringe is unfortunately now in the Centre," TMC's Yashwant Sinha stated responding to BJP's clarification.
BJP is founded upon religious violence, hatred, divisive conservatism: Congress
The Congress leader, Randeep Surjewala, while attacking the BJP, argued that the "intrinsic character of the BJP and the Modi government is now founded upon religious violence, divisive conservatism, and nurturing hatred to secure vote-bank politics". He said, "The truth is that the BJP has pushed India into a dark age of religious polarisation to subserve its parochial political agenda in the short term."
India faces backlash from Muslim countries
Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned India's ambassador to Tehran over an alleged "insult to the Prophet of Islam in an Indian TV show." Besides Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait summoned India's ambassadors and handed over protest notes in response to the BJP leader's contentious remarks against the Prophet. In fact, the Grand Mufti of Oman has called for a boycott of Indian products.
Shiv Sena condemns the BJP for spreading hate, damaging relations
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said the BJP had "put at risk thousands of Indians working in Middle Eastern countries, damaged long-standing relationships India has had and destroyed Indian businesses" in order to feed "their domestic audience" with hatred.
Fringe is mainstream, backed by Amit Shah: Owaisi
In response to Sharma's remarks that one of the first calls she received after the controversy erupted was from Home Minister, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted. "FRINGE is MAINSTREAM. Backed by none less than Amit Shah. Is this why cops still haven't arrested anyone? 20 crore Indian Muslims' religious beliefs were insulted. Rather...addressing their concerns...Modi...more afraid of a foreign backlash. Very unfortunate," he said.