New Delhi: Ruling BJP and Congress on Monday sparred in Rajya Sabha over remarks of Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad allegedly comparing Hindutva outfit RSS with terrorist organisation Islamic State.
While the ruling party and its ministers wanted Azad to withdraw his controversial remarks and apologise, the Congress leader denied drawing any parallel between the two and said he was submitting a CD of his speech to the government and is willing to face privilege motion if anything wrong was found.
After Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi slipped in a reference to the alleged remarks by Azad while giving government's response to concern by members over remarks by RSS leaders' on continuation of reservation, Azad read out the verbatim speech he made at an event organised by Jamait Ulama-i-Hind last week.
He said he had in the speech stated there was no fight between Hindus and Muslims in India but a fight on ideology. Ruing why Muslims were joining a terrorist organisation like Islamic State that is destroying Islamic traditions, Azad said he had stated that "we oppose to organisations like ISIS like we oppose RSS."
Also, "if someone in Islam does wrong, they are no less than RSS," he said. "Where is the comparison," he asked. "If I had said ISIS and RSS are same" there would have been a comparison.
He said he had stated that Hindu, Muslim and Sikh fundamentalists have to be fought as they are against the country. "We have to fight them all together." Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said he personally respected Azad but "he should think if he has knowingly or unknowingly slipped ... you have given respectability to ISIS."
Earlier, when SP and BSP members raised the issue of RSS leaders on Sunday talking of reservation being based on economic criteria, Naqvi said Azad's comparison of RSS with the Islamic State was "great old party's grand new secular formula."
"Atankio ko phool ka guldasta aur rashtrawadion par hamla (bouquets to terrorists and attack on nationalists)," he said and demanded an apology from the Congress party for the comparison.
As Azad got up to respond, he was interrupted by treasury benches including ministers.
"Please behave like educated persons," he said to them asking them not to bring inside the House the "intolerance they show to criticism outside".
"Everyone who is not RSS or BJP is a terrorist to them," he said displaying a CD that he said contained his speech.
He said he has submitted the CD to the Leader of the House and was laying it on the table so that it can be shown to the BJP members and ministers.
"Please bring privilege motion seeking my removal" if after watching the whole CD, anything objectionable is found in it, he said.
Azad, reading his earlier speech, said he had spoken of Hindus, judges and journalists who were fighting for secularism. All forms of fundamentalism must be resisted, he said.
"In the fight for secularism, you will find people from all sects and religions but not in fundamentalism," he said.
After the clarification, the House took up other business.
In the Lok Sabha, the issue also came up briefly during the Zero Hour, with Ashwini Kumar Chopra of the BJP attacking Azad for attempting to "tarnish" the image of the RSS.
He wanted a discussion on the issue in the House.