Union Minority Affairs minister Najma Heptulla on Friday denied the report that she had defended the RSS stand that all Indians are “Hindus”. She said that she had not used the word “Hindu” but the word “Hindi”.
“I did not use the word Hindu at all. I referred to the word Hindi. India, in Arabic, is Hind and all Indians are referred to as Hindi. It has nothing to do with religion but is a national identity. I have been misquoted in that report,” Heptulla told The Indian Express.
She was reacting to a report in the Hindustan Times in which she was quoted as saying that there is nothing wrong in Indians of whatever religion being called Hindus as it merely refers to where they live.
She declined to comment on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement that all Indians are Hindus and also on her party’s attempt to raise the issue of love jihad. “These are not germane to my ministry and take away from the Narendra Modi government’s agenda of development for all,” she said. The denial notwithstanding, the comments drew sharp reactions from several parties even as BJP sought to play them down.
Reacting to the newspaper report Congress leader Manish Tewari said: “We respect Najmaji a lot but it would be better if she reads the Constitution. The Constitution mentions ‘Bharat’ and going by that every citizen of the country is a ‘Bharatiya’ and not Hindu.”
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.