BJP MP says Christians did not contribute to India’s freedom; Congress, NCP hit back

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published: July 6, 2018 10:31:02 pm

Gopal Shetty on Friday said his comments were misrepresented and he was ready to submit his resignation. (File)

BJP MP from Mumbai North Gopal Shetty has stirred controversy after he said that Christians did not contribute to the struggle for India’s independence. A video has surfaced in which Shetty is heard describing Indian Christians before Independence as “angrez” while addressing a gathering for Eid-e-Milad organised by the Shia Kabrastan Committee in Mumbai on Sunday.

“India was not freed by Hindus…India was not freed by Muslims, we fought as one for our independence. Christians were angrez (British), so they didn’t participate in India’s freedom struggle,” the BJP MP can be heard as saying in a video.

Not averse to making controversial statements, Shetty on Friday said his comments were misrepresented and he was ready to submit his resignation. The Maharashtra MP also said he had never discriminated against anyone. “My statement has been misrepresented. I have never discriminated against anyone. Still, I have informed state party president about my decision to resign to which he has asked me to meet him,” ANI quoted Shetty as saying.

At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP are focusing on the ‘saabka saath, saabka vikas’ plank ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the remarks by Shetty have left the party red-faced. Media reports said Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar had asked Shetty to withdraw the statement and distanced itself from it. Two years ago, the BJP MP had courted controversy after he described farmer suicides as “fashion”.

The Congress was quick to respond to the remarks by Shetty, while NCP chief Sharad Pawar derided the BJP leader for his off-the-cuff statement. Saying Shetty should be ashamed of himself, Pawar claimed Congress’ Annie Besant was a significant name in the country’s freedom struggle. “A minister said today that Christians did not contribute to the freedom struggle. He should be ashamed of himself. Congress contributed a lot to the struggle for freedom and Annie Besant was a significant name in Congress,” ANI quoted the NCP supremo as saying at an event in Pune.

Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said Shetty had failed his 8th standard exams thrice and he would send the BJP leader history books to shore up his knowledge about the role of Christians in India’s freedom movement.

“I feel pity for BJP MP Gopal Shetty for his lack of knowledge of history since he is uneducated and had failed in 8th standard exams, not once but thrice. Will send him history books to know about Christians role in freedom movement in India. He must apologise to the community,” Nirupam said.

Asking BJP to apologise, former chief minister Ashok Chavan said Shetty’s remarks reflected the saffron party’s communal mindset. Chavan further said that only the RSS was in the favour of the British. “BJP must apologise for the condemnable statement of Gopal Shetty against Christians. It reflects despicably communal mindset of BJP. Freedom struggle is the epitome of sacrifices made by all communities including Christians. Shetty must know that only RSS was in support of British,” Chavan tweeted.

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