The Election Commission on Wednesday issued a notice against Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan for his speech in which he said only Muslim soldiers were to be credited for India’s Kargil victory in 1999.
Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan at a rally
Khan on Wednesday defended his remark while the Congress and BJP termed it communal. As the poll panel sought details, the Samajwadi Party leader said: "My statement on Kargil should be welcomed… What is the harm in talking about the contributions of Muslims for the country... why can't we talk about it? Why are the sacrifices of Muslim soldiers being ignored? What is so wrong about it?" he said.
Addressing an election rally in Ghaziabad for party candidate Nahid Hasan on Tuesday, Khan on Monday said the Kargil peaks were not conquered by Hindu soldiers, but by Muslim soldiers.
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He was attacked by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party alike who slammed the leader for communalising the poll. Both parties also complained to the poll panel over the issue.
"This is an insult to the Indian Army and the sacrifice made by our soldiers," BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said on Wednesday.
"Such a statement during election shows the extreme of vote bank politics by the so-called secular parties. It is a dangerous example of playing communal politics over national security," he said.
"This is election time and the EC has responsibility to conduct the polls impartially. Security forces have a crucial role to play in the elections. If anybody tries to do communal politics over security forces, then it will have a serious repercussion on electioneering," added Trivedi.
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Former army chief General (retired) VK Singh, who is the BJP candidate from Ghaziabad Lok Sabha constituency, said the Kargil war was "won by Indians".
"Anybody who talks of caste, creed and religion in the army needs to be condemned. He may be anybody. The war was won by Indians and not by any caste, creed, society, religion," he said.
Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala demanded that "action should be taken against Khan for intemperate remarks that could lead to division of communities based on religion or caste".