New Delhi: The controversy over Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's 'puppy' remark on 2002 riots doesn't seem to be ending. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been trying hard to defend its party leader, other political parties are not ready to let go of Modi.
Modi sparked a controversy after, in an interview to Reuters, he claimed that he was innocent in the 2002 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.
Coming out strongly in defence of Modi, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that Muslims are not unhappy with the Gujarat Chief Minister's remark but "their leaders are provoking them to become unhappy". Prasad was speaking to Karan Thapar on Devil's Advocate.
Here is the transcript of an excerpt from the interview:
Karan Thapar: I accept that he (Narendra Modi) wasn't comparing Indian Muslims to puppies, but can you accept that this was a poor use of language?
Ravi Shankar Prasad: Well Mr Karan Thapar, it is copybook case of gross distortion. You are having the interview and I am also having. What did he say?
Karan Thapar: Kutte ka bachcha (puppy)
Ravi Shankar Prasad: And thereafter what he says. I am a Chief Minister or not. I am a human being and if anything bad happens anywhere I am sad. I think it is so clear.
Karan Thapar: Except that Mr Prasad you know that better than me that 'kutte ka bachcha' (puppy) is a terminology that would be offensive to Indians and those were his precise words. That's is why I put it to you, he should have chosen the phrase he used with greater discretion and care.
Ravi Shankar Prasad: I am sorry I differ with you. What he said also is that every creature is worthy of respect. He also clarified that. You know who is opposing it. Let's be very honest. The people of the country, those who understand are understanding it and those who never tried to understand or always criticise Narendra Modi are trying to pickhole into it.
Karan Thapar: Actually the people who are the most upset are the Muslims who in a sense were being analogically compared to 'kutte ka bachcha' (puppy) and I put it to you that after 2002 Mr Modi should have known that any metaphor, any analogy that he uses with reference to 2002 would be carefully scrutinised. He should have been on his guard, he wasn't and that's carelessness.
Ravi Shankar Prasad: I again differ with you, not Muslims are unhappy, their leaders are trying to provoke them to become unhappy.