The BJP government on Tuesday dismissed Congress president Sonia Gandhi's attack on it over the "rise" in communal riots since it assumed power, saying it was not necessary to comment on her "off the cuff" remarks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already made his stand clear.
Minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh told reporters that he did not think "we should attach much importance to what somebody was saying" as we live in "evidence-based era of arguments".
"The Prime Minister's and government's stand on these issues (communal violence) is more than clear. The issue came up in Parliament and the government made its position very clear.
The home minister made a very elaborate statement in Parliament yesterday (Monday)," he said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday attacked the Narendra Modi government saying there has been a spurt in communal violence in the country after his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power and added its prime agenda was to divide people.
Sonia was addressing members of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee in Thiruvananthapuram.
In her first direct attack on the Modi government, Sonia said there have been 600 incidents of communal violence in 11 weeks of his rule adding that during the Congress-led UPA regime, there were hardly any such incidents.
"I wonder why after the BJP came to power all these communal incidents have happened," ANI quoted the Congress president as saying.
"It seems some of these incidents are deliberately orchestrated. The party in power is in a hurry to divide people. The Congress will not allow dilution of secular and pluralistic tradition of the country," she said.
According to news reports, there have been more than 600 communal flare-ups of varying degrees in Uttar Pradesh since May 16 — the day the general election results were announced. Most of them happened in the 12 bypoll areas of the state.
Starting from Muzaffarnagar in 2013, several UP districts have been scarred by riots, the latest being Meerut. The district has been on the boil for the last few days after news of an alleged forced conversion and rape of a 20-year-old woman in a religious institution spread.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in an uncharacteristically aggressive mood in Parliament had attacked the NDA on its reluctance to debate the issue in Lok Sabha.
Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu had last week denied that there was any religious tension in the country and accused the Opposition of creating unnecessary hurdles in the House.
Naidu was responding to the opposition’s demand for a parliamentary debate on the rising number of communal clashes in the country.
She also took a dig at Modi government's continued silence on mounting civilian deaths and atrocities in Gaza.
"We have seen how they were resisting even a discussion in Parliament. But in Rajya Sabha we managed to do it," she said adding the ruling party has overlooked the age-old ties with the suffering people of Palestine.
Modi had in his speech at the BJP's national Council meet on August 9 blamed "vote-bank politics" of Congress and ruling Samajawadi Party in UP for riots in the state.
"BJP never accepts such incidents (of violence). Peace, unity, harmony and brotherhood are the pre-requisites of progress and there will be no compromise on this.
"Some people who have suffered a massive defeat are still not able to desist from engaging in old vote-bank politics.
They are engaged in disturbing the social fabric of the country," Modi had said.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)