New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Countering the BJP attack on him for sharing the stage with controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Friday slammed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for meeting with Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.
Digvijaya Singh came under attack on Thursday for having dubbed the preacher a “messenger of peace” in 2012 and also sharing the stage with him.
“I am being criticised for sharing stage with Zakir Naik, but what about Rajnath Singh-ji meeting bomb blast accused Pragya Thakur,” the Congress leader tweeted.
“Pragya is an accused in bomb blast, is there a case against Zakir Naik as yet? What about Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-ji sharing stage with Zakir,” he further tweeted.
Naik is under the scanner following revelations that two of the five young militants who massacred 20 hostages, including an Indian, at a popular cafe in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka on July 1, drew their inspiration from his speeches.
“If Rajnath Singh visits Malegaon bomb blast accused Pragya Thakur, is that nationalism,” Digvijay Singh told the media.
“Sri Sri Ravishankar ji shares the stage with Zakir Naik, that’s nationalism, but if I share the stage with him, I become anti-national? What kind of double standards are these?”
“What is the allegation against Zakir Naik? Is he a terrorist, is there a case against him? Is he a criminal,” he further said.
Naik, founder of Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation, is banned in Britain and Canada for his hate speeches aimed against other religions.
Talking to a news channel on Friday Digvijaya Singh said: “I was invited by Zakir Naik to speak on how to bring communal harmony, peace and why Islam is against killing of innocent people.
“I don’t regret sharing the dais with him as he was speaking against acts of terrorism and how Islam was against killing innocents,” he added.
Singh also said that the entire issue of Zakir Naik has been raised to polarize the society.
“The entire issue of Zakir Naik has been created and propagated by people who thrive on polarization. BJP is beneficiary of this polarization and Congress is in fact losing because of this,” said Singh.
He said: “I am a practising Hindu and believe that this country should not support any religious fundamentalism. Congress has always been liberal, modern and secular and I respect all religions.”
Asked what he thinks about Zakir Naik, Digvijaya said: “Naik is an Islamic preacher, fiery and articulate speaker. Let the government probe if his speeches inspired those who were behind acts of terror in Dhaka.
“When Zakir Naik denies the videos, and says that the videos are doctored, let the government probe it,” he added.
Questioning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Singh said: “Has any BJP leader said anything against Giriraj Singh, Yogi Aditya Nath, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti? Would ask the government to look into provocative speeches made by people like Sadhvi and others.”