Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday sparked off a controversy when he drew an equivalence between the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) the ideological mentors of the ruling BJP and the terror outfit Islamic State (IS). He was speaking at an event organised by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind and his remarks prompted a furious reaction from both the RSS, which threatened legal action, and the BJP, which demanded an apology from Mr. Azad.
“So, we oppose organisations like IS, the way we oppose the RSS. If those among us in Islam too do wrong things, they are no way less than the RSS," Mr. Azad had said in his speech. During his speech, Mr. Azad made a strong case for fighting communalism of “all types," whether indulged in by Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs, as they are a “threat to the world and the country."
“They create distances between a man and another. Let them be of any religion, we will have to fight them. Hence, all the secularist forces need to come together to eliminate these forces. The fight is between communalism and secularism; let's see whether communalism wins or the secularism," he said. “India belongs to all religions, which means majority is with us," he added.
Demands apology: - The RSS, whose top leadership is meeting at a conclave in Nagaur in Rajasthan said “Azad comparing the IS with the RSS exhibits the intellectual bankruptcy of the Congress and its unwillingness to deal with fundamentalist and cruel forces like the IS."
The RSS' saha prachar pramukh or joint publicity chief, J. Nand Kumar said the Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the highest decision making body of the RSS, will discuss legal action on the matter. “We are altogether here, will discuss and consider legal action," he said.
The BJP demanded an apology from Mr. Azad for defaming the RSS which it termed a “nationalist" organisation. “The RSS is a nationalist organisation. It is very unfortunate that he has said so. It shows his mental bankruptcy. He must apologise or Sonia Gandhi should take action against him," party national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
The BJP also termed as “politically motivated" Ms. Gandhi's written message to the same event that the country was passing through a “critical phase" as those in power are “spreading hatred" by targeting secularism. “She is speaking against what her party has always practised. The Congress divided nation along caste, religion and regional lines. She should not be preaching the BJP," Mr. Sharma said, accusing the party of “supporting" anti-national elements for political reasons, a reference to the JNU row.