New Delhi: A furore was caused hours after Congress’ overseas chief Sam Pitroda on Thursday remarked ‘Hua toh hua’ on being prodded about the 1984 anti-Sikh riots– which then spilled over to Friday with the Prime Minister calling out the Congress’ callousness towards the carnage and subsequently Pitroda apologising for it.

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Pitroda landed himself in trouble when asked about BJP’s claim that instructions to kill in 1984 had come from late former PM Rajiv Gandhi. “Ab kya hai ’84 ka? Aapne kya kiya 5 saal mein, uski baat kariye. ’84 mein hua to hua. Aapne kya kiya? (What about 1984 now?. What have you done in 5 years, talk about that? What happened in 1984, happened),” the senior Congress leader had said.

Soon after his comments, the political commentariat was up in arms condemning his complacent views on the 1984 riots. He then issued a statement reading, “I have noticed how BJP is again twisting three words from my interview to distort facts, divide us and hide their failures. Sad that they have nothing positive to offer. I acknowledged the pain of my Sikh brothers and sisters during difficult times in 1984 and deeply feel for the atrocities that happened. But these are things from past that are not really relevant to this election which is all about what did Modi government do for the last five years. Rajiv Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will never target a group of people based on creed.”

Nevertheless, upping the ante against the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday slammed the party for its “arrogance”.

“Yesterday, one of the top Congress leaders said the 1984 riots just happened (‘Hua toh Hua’). These three words sum up the arrogance of the Congress,” he told an election meeting in Haryana’s Rohtak on the last day of campaigning for the sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls.

“The leader is close to the Gandhi family, a good friend of (the late) Rajiv Gandhi and a ‘guru’ (mentor) of Rahul Gandhi,” Modi said without naming Pitroda. He said while hundreds of Sikhs were burnt to death by with petrol and diesel and with burning tyres flung around their necks, “the Congress is saying ‘Hua toh Hua’.”

The Bhartiya Janata Party was quick to demand an apology from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi over Indian Overseas Congress chief Sam Pitroda’s remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

“We demand that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi must apologise for the worst comments made by Sam Pitroda which has hurt the people of the country,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told the media at his residence.

Wasting no time, the Grand Old Party distanced itself from the row and put out a letter that read, “We believe that justice should be done to 1984 riots victims as also to 2002 Gujarat riots victims. We abhor violence of any kind, against any person or a group of people based on their caste, colour, region or religion. This is the essence of India.”

In view of the flare-up, Pitroda spoke to the media and reasoned his poor Hindi for his faux pas in making a statement over 1984 riots. He said, “The statement I made was completely twisted, taken out of context because my Hindi isn’t good, what I meant was ‘jo hua vo bura hua,’ I couldn’t translate ‘bura’ in my mind.”

He also added:

In latest development, Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Facebook and expressed his anguish over Pitroda’s comments.

Meanwhile, taking strong exception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempt to link Rajiv Gandhi with the anti-Sikh 1984 riots, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday drew a comparison with the Godhra massacre, which took place under Modi was Gujarat Chief Minister.

It was wrong of Modi to connect Rajiv Gandhi with the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, Amarinder Singh told reporters in Chandigarh. “What if someone starts linking Modi with Godhra?” he asked, adding that it did not behoove the Prime Minister to stoop to such levels to win an election.

The 1984 riots took place in wake of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards.

 

With inputs from IANS