Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed never thought his comment would spark off such a controversy and he was equally surprised by the media hype over the statement, says Anita Katyal
Having sparked off a major political controversy with his tweet -- that the Gujarat riots led to the formation of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen -- All India Congress Committee general secretary Shakeel Ahmed on Monday said he was surprised by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s strong reaction to the comment as he was merely referring to the charge-sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency after the Bodh Gaya serial blasts.
Not only has the Congress leader been under attack from the BJP, but his own party has also given him the cold shoulder over his statement.
Purportedly reacting to the comment, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has objected to party leaders airing their views and speaking out of turn.
Addressing a workshop for party spokespersons, he reportedly told the delegates, “Spokespersons and panelists may have their individual views, but as party spokespersons and panelists, you have to be within the party line. We cannot go beyond the party ideology. Those who go beyond will be noticed and action will be taken.”
“It is not the party line as of now,” was all that Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhary had to say when asked to comment on Ahmed’s statement.
Ahmed had tweeted on Sunday, “Indian Mujahideen was formed after the Gujarat riots, says NIA in its charge-sheet. Even now the BJP and RSS will not desist from their communal politics.”
Speaking to rediff.com, Ahmed said he was surprised at the reactions his comment had evoked.
“This is not my comment. This is the finding of the NIA and this has been mentioned in the charge-sheet filed by it,” Ahmed said, stating that the news report on the NIA charge-sheet had appeared in several newspapers a day before he tweeted about it.
Ahmed said he never thought his comment would spark off such a controversy, stating that he was equally surprised by the media hype over the statement, especially since he was only quoting the NIA charge-sheet.
Hitting back at the BJP, Ahmed said it was not him but the principal opposition party which was trying to communalise the issue.
“How come the BJP did not react when news reports about the charge-sheet appeared a day earlier,” Ahmed said.
The unfazed AICC general secretary claimed that BJP leaders were only trying to divert attention from the NIA charge-sheet by making him the target of their attack.
As for his own party’s cold response, Ahmed claimed that nobody had got in touch with him to convey the leadership’s unhappiness over the contents of his tweet.
Ever since he took to Twitter, said Ahmed, he had made it amply clear that the tweets reflected his personal views and not the official line of the party.
Meanwhile, the BJP continued its attack, with BJP’s Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley lambasting the Congress for trying to “deflect the agenda as it is faced with a crisis of governance and lack of leadership.”
Coming down heavily on Shakeel Ahmed, Jaitley said he was trying to “rewrite” history by “his desperate attempt to communlise the issue of national security.”
He said Ahmed was trying to somehow paint the Indian Mujahideen as an organisation of the aggrieved who are victims of the Gujarat riots.
“He ignores the international context and Pakistan’s strategy behind the creation of the Indian Mujahideen,” Jaitley added.
Incidentally, this is not the first time that Ahmed has embarrassed the party and stirred up a controversy with his tweets.
When an explosion took place near the Karantaka’s BJP’s office in Bangalore before the assembly elections, Ahmed had tweeted, “If the blast near the BJP’s office in Bangalore is a terror attack, it will certainly help the BJP politically in the election.”
Back then, the Congress had quickly distanced itself from these comments.
AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi had clarified that the Congress did not share his views.
“We all know that terrorism is a national and an international problem. We do not view the problem in terms of political benefit or loss,” Dwivedi had said.