Taking a swipe at the Modi government, Congress Monday said the previous NDA dispensation had in 2003 “pulled out all stops” to make controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir a success.
“Naik’s three-day visit was organised by the then NDA government. All stops were pulled out to make it a success,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said, adding the preacher was even “entertained” in the Raj Bhawan at that time when the PDP was in power in the state.
His remarks came on a day the government issued a gazette notification barring Naik’s NGO — Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) — from receiving foreign funds directly. Seeking to take the battle to BJP’s court, Tewari asked if Naik was such a “devil incarnate”, why the NDA government did not act against him in 2003?
At the same time, he made it clear that the controversial nature of Naik’s preaching came to the fore after the recent terror attack in Dhaka and that his activities might have been surreptitious earlier and had not come on the radar of the media and security agencies.
Tewari, a former Information and Broadcasting Minister, accused BJP leader and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad of being “extremely sloppy on facts” during his reply in Parliament on the issue of Peace TV of Naik.
He charged Prasad with attempting to be “clever by half and economical with truth”. Prasad had targeted Congress over a donation of Rs 50 lakh made by Naik to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, alleging that it was a bribe paid by the controversial preacher to “shelter” his “anti-national” activities.
“…before BJP starts pointing fingers and imputing motives, it will be worthwhile to introspect if Zakir Naik was the ‘devil incarnate’, what were they doing frolicking with the ‘devil incarnate’ in 2003?” Tewari asked.