A controversy over Muhammad Ali Jinnah triggered by a statement by Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav is heating up in Uttar Pradesh.
Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday sought to defend his widely criticised statement equating Muhammad Ali Jinnah with Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru, saying they helped India get freedom.
On the other hand, an UP minister suggested a narco test for Akhilesh Yadav for "glorifying" the Pakistani leader.
As the row over the Samajwadi Party(SP) leader's comments raged, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, without naming Yadav, described the remarks as "shameful and condemnable" and warned people against political parties which equate Sardar Patel with Jinnah. His ministerial colleague Anand Swaroop Shukla also said those heaping praises on Jinnah should go to Pakistan.
Yadav on his part hit out at his detractors, asking them to read history books again.
Asked by reporters in Lucknow about his response to the row over his remarks that had kicked up a controversy ahead of the Assembly elections in UP, the former chief minister shot back, "Why should I say the context? I would say read the books again."
Yadav's counter-attack drew a sharp response from UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh, who in a Hindi tweet said, "The love for Jinnah still remains intact. Akhilesh Yadav ji please tell which history books have to be read -- the Indian or the Pakistani."
On October 31, Yadav had said, "Sardar Patel, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and (Muhammad Ali) Jinnah studied in the same institute and became barristers. They helped (India) get freedom and never backed away from any struggle."
Minister Shukla told reporters in Ballia that Jinnah is responsible for the division of the country.
"Jinnah is a villain, who no Indian would like to see or listen to. Akhilesh Yadav must clarify as to under which pressure, greed, is he glorifying Jinnah?"
"I want Akhilesh Yadav to himself come forward, and get his narco test done," he said. A narco test involves the injection of a drug, sodium pentothal, which induces a hypnotic or sedated state in which the subject’s imagination is neutralised, and they are expected to divulge true information.
Shukla further said that those raising 'zindabad' slogans in praise of Jinnah, having thoughts and feelings of Jinnah in their mind, have no place in India. "They themselves should go to Pakistan," the BJP leader added.
Speaking at a public event in Auraiya, Adityanath, without naming Yadav, said a leader of a party had a few days back in a speech attempted to equate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the man who symbolised the unity of India, with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who divided the country. The chief minister said the entire state should reject such "shameful and condemnable" remarks.
"Sardar Patel, who symbolised India's integrity, united over 563 kingdoms with India (at the time of Independence). We have to understand the mindset of the elements, who are trying to equate Sardar Patel with Jinnah. Sardar Patel united the country, while Jinnah divided the country, both cannot be contemporaries ('samkaksh').
"Sardar Patel was a 'rashtranayak' (national hero), but Jinnah was the one to break the unity of India. We have to be alert of people who are trying to equate them," Adityanath said.
The SP also demanded the sacking of Shukla for accusing Yadav of getting economic support from Pakistan's spy agency ISI.
Shukla on Tuesday had said that Chief Minister Adityanath has become a challenge for the Islamic world. "Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is getting all support from them. Akhilesh is getting 'sanrakshan aur sujhav' (patronage and advice) from the ISI. It is possible that he might also be getting economic support from it."
On Friday, SP workers staged a protest at the District Collectorate building to demand the registration of a case against the minister. The opposition party has demanded that a case be registered against Shukla for making insulting remarks against the party chief, and spreading animosity in the society.
SP's Ballia district unit chief Raj Mangal Yadav, meanwhile, said there will be intense protests against the minister and that he will not be allowed to enter the district if the administration doesn’t take action against him.
(With PTI inputs)