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Jul 16, 2013 at 04:26pm IST

BJP defends Modi's 'puppy' remark as his rivals compare him with Hitler

New Delhi: A day after Narendra Modi sparked a controversy by his 'puppy' remark over the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come out in his defence, saying the remark showed the Gujarat Chief Minister's 'sheer compassion' and his 'childlike heart' even as his political opponents stepped up their attack on him and even compared him to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. The Janata Dal (United), which recently walked out of the BJP-led NDA went on to compare Modi's ideology as the same that led to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

"What Modi has said is sheer compassion, ask any child in the country what they would feel, if a puppy comes under the car. The statement reveals the compassion, the childlike heart in Narendra Modi, that's exactly what he's said," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said on Saturday.

But political parties opposed to the BJP kept up attack on Modi on his remarks over the 2002 Gujarat riots. Terming Modi's ideology as 'scary', JD(U) le ader Ali Anwar said this is the kind of ideology that killed Mahatma Gandhi. "Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, was also a Hindu. Everyone is aware that he was attached to RSS and had similar ideologies. There may be frauds in any religion. What Modi has said is not just wrong but also scary," Anwar said.

Decrying Modi on 2002 riot and his 'puppy' comments, Union minister and NCP leader Tariq Anwar on Saturday said he is speaking in 'Hitler's tone'. "He (Modi) has not yet become the prime minister but is speaking in the tones of fascist leader Adolf Hitler," Anwar, Union Minister of State for Agriculture, told reporters in Patna.

Modi sparked a controversy after, in an interview to Reuters, he claimed that he was innocent in the Gujarat riots and said "I would feel guilty only if I did something wrong". "While driving if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is...I'm a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad," he added.

While the Congress demanded an apology from him, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said it was shameful that the Gujarat Chief Minister was "justifying" the riots.

"Thousands of people were killed in the communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 and in the backdrop the analogy used by Narendra Modi needed to be strongly condemned. There is no place for such a comparison in civilised India," party General Secretary Ajay Maken said on Friday.

"It is reflective of his perverse mindset. It is totally against the idea of India....We are unable to understand as to what is the intention of raising such things before the elections," Maken, who is the head of the AICC Communications department, said.

The CPI(M) also lambasted Modi for "justifying and trivialising" the 2002 riots, saying he was not ready even now to express regrets for it. "It is utterly shameful that he is justifying the genocide and using inappropriate examples and analogies to trivialise the enormity of it," senior CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said.

The Gujarat Chief Minister later defended his "puppy" remark on Twitter saying, "In our culture every form of life is valued & worshipped. My original interview with Reuters http://nm4.in/138jss0...People are best judge."

Modi also came under the attack for his "Hindu nationalist" statement. He had in his interview said, "I am nationalist. I'm patriotic. I am a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong in that. So yes, you can say I'm a Hindu nationalist."

Hitting out at Modi for making this comment, Congress General Secretary Digivijaya Singh tweeted, "Shouldn't we all be Nationalist Indians rather than Hindu Nationalist or Muslim Nationalist or Sikh Nationalist or Christian Nationalist?"

Minority Affairs Minister Rehman Khan also condemned the statement saying, "There is nothing called Hindu or Muslim nationalist, there is only Indian nationalist."

"No one can change the character of any person. This is just the beginning of unveiling of his character, more will come out in future. Nitish always said Modi is fascist, Modi always treated minority with contempt," JD(U) leader Sabir Ali said.

With Additional Inputs From PTI