Televangelist Zakir Naik had been hosted by the BJP-led NDA government in 2003, the Congress alleged on Monday.
The Congress offensive against the BJP comes after the ruling side accused a former Congress minister for lobbying for Naik. Last week, union law minister Ravishankar Prasad highlighted UPA’s minority affairs minister Rehman Khan’s letter seeking protection for Naik from “channels” to then information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari.
Hitting back at the BJP, Tewari said, “Is it not a fact that Zakir Naik’s three-day visit to J&K was organized by the then NDA government and all stops were pulled out to make that successful? Before BJP starts pointing fingers and imputing motives, it will be worthwhile to introspect if Zakir Naik was the devil incarnate, what were they doing frolicking with the “Devil Incarnate” in 2003.”
Naik, 51, is on the radar of security agencies after reports emerged that the terrorists behind the carnage in Dhaka in July this year were inspired by his sermons. Naik has been barred from holding public sermons in India and his Islamic Research Foundation’s permission to receive foreign funds has been withdrawn. Four cases are also pending against the preacher in Maharashtra.