New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday suspended national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled Delhi BJP media in-charge Naveen Kumar Jindal over their controversial comments on Prophet Muhammad.
While Sharma was suspended from the party pending an inquiry, Jindal was ousted from the party.
The action, which came shortly after the BJP issued a statement denouncing insult to any religious personality, is said to be the fallout of the party’s growing unease over statements being made against Muslims. The BJP leadership, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was upset with Sharma’s statement made at a television debate. Twitter was abuzz with anti-India boycott calls from the Arab world, including from the likes of the Grand Mufti of Oman.
“You have expressed views contrary to the party’s position on various matters, which is in clear violation of Rule 10 (a) of constitution of the Bharatiya Janata Party. I have been directed to convey to you that pending further inquiry, you are suspended from the party and from your responsibilities/ assignments if any, with immediate effect,” read the notice issued to Sharma by the BJP’s central disciplinary committee.
In a letter to Jindal, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta wrote that his view on social media to incite communal disharmony was against the basic thought of the party. “You worked against party ideology and policy. Therefore, your primary membership is ended with immediate effect and you are also suspended from the party,” it added.
ThePrint saw the contents of the letters sent to Sharma and Jindal.
Sharma, meanwhile, tweeted requesting the media and the people to not reveal her residential address. “There is a security threat to my family,” she tweeted. The BJP spokesperson also posted a message in which she apologised if anyone was hurt by her statement.
— Nupur Sharma (@NupurSharmaBJP) June 5, 2022
When ThePrint reached out to Jindal for his statement, the BJP leader said he has sought police protection. Like Sharma, he also apologised for his comment made on the social media.
Apart from the fallout of the unease over the controversial statements, the action is also being construed as an attempt to rein in leaders who have been “crossing the party’s official line on sensitive matters” and often embarrassing the party. Sources in the BJP said that the strict action against Sharma and Jindal is being seen as a damage-control exercise.
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‘Against any hate ideology’
Earlier in the day, seeking to defuse the tension over the remark made by its spokespersons, the BJP issued a statement saying it ‘strongly denounces’ insult of any religious personalities. The party also stressed that it does not promote any ‘such people or philosophy’.
“In the history of India, every religion has blossomed and flourished. The BJP respects all religions. The BJP strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities of any religion. The BJP is also strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion. The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy,” party national general secretary Arun Singh said in the statement. The Constitution gives the right to every citizen to practice any religion of his/her choice and to honour and respect every religion, it said.
Several protests have taken place in which Muslims denounced Sharma’s views. On Friday, Kanpur saw communal clashes during a bandh called in to protest the derogatory remarks made by the BJP spokespersons.
At a Sangh event in Nagpur on Thursday, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat had called for amity between the Hindus and the Muslims, saying that there was no need to look for a ‘Shivling’ in every mosque. On Saturday, BJP president JP Nadda had met foreign envoys and interacted with them. Among those present for the interaction were the envoys from Russia, Cuba, Laos as well as those from Muslim-majority countries Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
This story has been updated to reflect Naveen Kumar Jindal’s response.
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