Government sidesteps Khattar remark as opposition flays him

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) The central government on Friday maintained it has nothing to say on Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s statement on consumption of beef by Muslims, as the opposition Congress condemned it while the Aam Aadmi Party demanded his sacking.

“Khattar has explained himself and I have nothing more to add,” union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.

“This country is full of diversity and our government and the party (BJP) believes in ‘sabka saath-sabka vikas’,” he added.

Khattar was quoted by an English daily on Friday as saying that “Muslims can continue to live in this country, but they will have to give up eating beef as the cow is an article of faith here”.

The Congress criticised Khattar and took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“It’s a sad day for democracy. Khattar-ji will now decide the qualifications for Indian citizenship. Is this a new model of governance, Modi-ji?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

The AAP demanded Khattar’s sacking and said his statement was a “blow to the country’s secular fabric” and that a criminal case be registered against him.

“Khattar should resign for his irresponsible statement, and if he does not, he should be sacked. He has distorted the secular fabric of the country. His statement is not only unfortunate, but also shameful,” AAP Delhi unit convenor Dilip Pandey said.

Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav accused Khattar of playing politics over religion.

“He is speaking nonsense. He is playing politics over religion. Now that he has made such statements, obviously the Muslims will react to it,” Yadav told reporters.

Finding himself cornered over his controversial statement on consumption of beef by Muslims, the chief minister on Friday first tried to wriggle out of the situation by saying his statement was “distorted” but then finally offered his “regret” when the a TV news channel repeatedly played the audio tape of his statement.

A political greenhorn and first-time legislator, Khattar completes one year in office as chief minister on October 26.

The statement was made in the context of the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri district of Uttar Pradesh on September 28 by a mob on suspicion that he ate beef.

–Indo-Asian News Servcie

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