JalandharNew Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday slammed the government for ‘bowing to fundamentalists’ and cancelling Salman Rushdie’s Jaipur visit and said the celebrated author had visited India when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister.
The BJP termed the Rushdie episode as the ‘worst communal vote bank politics.’
BJP leader Arun Jaitley slammed the government for ‘bowing to fundamentalists’ and said Rushdie should have been allowed to come to India.
A video address by Rushdie at the Jaipur Literature Festival was called off Tuesday following protests by some Muslim groups.
Jaitley, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said the author should have been given police protection, adding that ‘bowing to fundamentalists is wrong for any government’.
‘Earlier, they bowed before the fundamentalists during the Shah Bano case and later the country had to face the consequences,’ Jaitley told reporters in Jalandhar.
Rushdie, whose book ‘The Satanic Verses’ is banned in India, had to cancel his visit to the festival over security fears.
‘He came to India during the Vajpayee government… Obviously, he should have been allowed.
‘Even if there was a threat, protection should have been given,’ Jaitley said, adding that the Rajasthan government faked a police report to claim a threat to Rushdie’s life.
‘I believe the state government, under any law, does not have the right to stop video-conferencing,’ Jaitley added.
Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said in New Delhi that the Rushdie episode has ‘exposed Congress for its worst communal vote bank politics.’
‘The Rajasthan government came out with a story of an intelligence input from the Mumbai police about two shooters arriving in Jaipur to kill Mr. Rushdie. The Mumbai police clarified that no such input was sent from their side. This exposed the Congress government to the hilt,’ Javadekar said.
He said the authors who had sought to read from the author’s banned book ‘The Satanic Verses’ had been forced to leave Jaipur and it was also ‘an attack on freedom of speech’.
‘The attempt to block the video link also must be viewed from vote bank politics angle. It also exposed Congress of its real intentions to impose censorship on internet communication. BJP condemns this crass communal vote bank politics of Congress,’ Javadekar said.
‘The so-called brigade of champions of freedom of expression are silent on the issue,’ he added.