The Congress is facing huge backlash from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over its leader’s controversial remark against former prime minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee on his birth anniversary.
On Sunday, Congress leader Gaurav Pandhi, who is also the coordinator for party chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s office, called Vajpayee a “British informer”, raising tempers within the BJP.
Pandhi’s statement came about the same time when Rahul Gandhi, who is leading the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra, was scheduled to visit Vajpayee’s memorial to pay his tributes. The Congress later said that his visit was scheduled for Monday.
Soon after Pandhi’s statement, the BJP wasted no time in cornering the Congress for allegedly insulting Vajpayee on his 98th birth anniversary. The BJP has demanded an apology from the Congress, and sought Pandhi’s resignation for his remark against the former prime minister.
Pandhi has accused Vajpayee of being a “British informer”, and claimed that he did not participate in the Quit India Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi against the British Raj, in 1942.
His tweet read: “In 1942, like all other members of the RSS, Atal Bihari Vajpayee boycotted the Quit India Movement & worked as a British Informer reporting against those who participated in the andolan.”
He also blamed Vajpayee for inciting mob violence in the country following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.
“There is a reason why BJP leaders today always liken Modi with Gandhi, Patel or other Congress leaders and not Savarkar, Vajpayee or Golwalkar. They know the truth!” he tweeted.
Soon after huge backlash on social media over the remarks, Pandhi deleted his tweet without explanation.
BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla attacked the Congress and said that Pandhi deliberately made the statement to insult Vajpayee on the day of his birth anniversary.
“This is not a ‘sanyog’ (coincidence) but a ‘prayog’ (experiment),” said Poonawala on Twitter.
Demanding the Congress to apologise over the remark, Poonawala said that it has become a habit of the grand old party to insult huge personalities like Vajpayee, Ambedkar, Sardar Patel and Vir Savarkar.
The BJP leader further asked the Congress to sack its leader from the party after Pandhi deleted his tweet. He stated that the Congress must clarify its stand and apologise, or the people would be forced to believe that Pandhi made this remark on the behalf of Rahul Gandhi.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi, amid a chilly winter morning in Delhi on Monday, paid his tribute to the former PM at the Sadaiv Atal memorial near Rajghat.
“This morning, Rahul Gandhi in keeping with the spirit of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, offered floral tributes at the Samadhis of Gandhiji, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Charan Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Jagjivan Ram,” tweeted Jairam Ramesh, Congress general-secretary in-charge of communications.