Union minister VK Singh has steered himself into another controversy. The Minister of State for External Affairs Singh has alleged that the intolerance debate in India is paid, funded and politically motivated.
“This particular debate (on intolerance) is no debate. It is the unnecessary creation of very imaginative minds who are being paid with a lot of money,” Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Los Angeles in the US.
Singh also said that the outrage over intolerance is politically motivated and was deliberately generated before the Bihar Assembly elections.
“I do not want to comment on how Indian media works….When the Delhi (Assembly) elections took place, suddenly we found a spate of articles and a lot of hysteria that was created that churches are being attacked, the Christian community is being isolated etc….A small incidence of theft in a church was depicted as an attack on church. Why? Because there was somebody who was trying to garner the votes, and the media was playing the ball. Whether it was being paid or not paid, I do not know…,” Singh alleged.
“Same is (the case with) this intolerance debate. The moment Bihar elections are over everything is gone. So lets not unnecessarily do things, which are wrong. All these people who were talking of intolerance and I would like you to put it down in your papers what happened when a Gandhian (Anna Hazare) in his 70s protesting against corruption was picked up in the middle of a night and put into Tihar (Jail). Which was the government in place at that time?” Singh added.
Singh’s statement has drawn sharp criticism from the Opposition Congress and some eminent civil society members.
Writer Ashok Vajpeyi has flayed the former Army Chief and called his statement irresponsible.
“Gen VK Singh is notorious for his irresponsible statement and then taking it back…Let him prove whether any such money was involved or not…More than 45 writers, are protesting and it is not possible that everything has been done in exchange of liquid capital,” criticised the writer.
In the recent past, at least 75 eminent personalities have returned their national and literary awards in a protest against the growing intolerance in the country.
Singh was in the US to attend the two-day event in place of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Swaraj was unable to make it to the US and returned home mid-way from Dubai in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
(With inputs from PTI)