Former union minister and Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar today stoked a fresh controversy by reportedly saying, during a panel discussion on a Pakistani news channel, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to be removed if talks between the two nations have to resume.
The Congress leader’s comments evoked sharp response from BJP and RJD, with the saffron outfit saying Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi should react to this and let the country know their stand on the issue.
The Congress, however, said BJP’s charges were “absolute nonsense” and that Aiyar communicated to the party that he had not said any such thing.
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When the anchor of Duniya TV asked what is to be done to end the stalemate in the relations between the two nations, Aiyar responded, “The first and the foremost thing is to remove Modi. Only then can the talks move forward. We have to wait for four more years. They (panelists) are all optimist and that we can move forward when Modi sahab is there, but I don’t think so.”
He further said, “Bring us (the Congress) back to power and remove them. There is no other way (to better the relations). We will remove them, but till then you (Pakistan) have to wait.” Sought his reaction to the issue, Congress leader Tom Vaddakan said, “This is absolutely nonsense. I have a letter with me written by Mr Aiyer in which he categorically denies saying anything like that. So there is no question of distancing from it.”
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar reacted strongly to the Congress leader’s statement.
“I feel Mani Shankar Aiyar has lost his mental balance to tell so to a Pakistan channel. Aiyar’s statement is not only an insult to the Prime Minister but also to the nation,” Javadekar, the Union Forest and Environment Minister, told reporters here.
The BJP also condemned the statement, calling it worrisome and anti-india.
“What is even more worrisome is that two senior Congress leaders, first Salman Khurshid, who is the former External Affairs Minister, and now Mani Shankar Aiyar, within a week’s span have given such a statement in a nation which is clearly anti-India and has even perpetrated terror in India.
“Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should react to this and let the country know its stand on the issue,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.
Attacking Aiyar for the statement, RJD’s Manoj Jha said even somebody with “minimum sanity” will condemn this statement. “Even a kindergarten student will not issue such a statement,” he said.
Aiyar had last week created a controversy with his remarks in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. Reacting to the attacks in Paris on Friday killing 129 people, Aiyar had said that “the anti-Islam phobia that is being carried out in the western countries should be stopped immediately. The Muslims living in France should be provided with the assurance that they are also citizens of the country.” In addition to expressing remorse, Aiyar said, “we should also think that why this situation has raised?”