The entire BJP leadership came out in defence of Amit Shah after Narendra Modi and others heard the party general secretary’s version of events over the controversy surrounding his alleged revenge speech in Muzzaffarnagar, party insiders say.
Shah growing stature in the party — due to proximity to Modi and after being handed over the charge of the poll-vital Uttar Pradesh — quickly got him the backing of top party leaders even as Samajawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi slammed him.
Party chief Rajnath Singh said media had quoted Shah out of context to rake up a row. “An appeal to the voters to take revenge against the incumbent government or the opponent because of its non-performance by voting against them is routinely done,” senior party leader Arun Jaitely said. He wondered which provision of law a speech that appealed people to vote could have violated.
Earlier in the day, Shah moved the Allahabad high court against the FIRs lodged against him by the UP government. He also urged the election commission to reconsider its notice to him, claiming the remarks had not been recorded in the right perspective.
Shah shared with the BJP brass what he had “exactly” said: “People feel insulted in entire UP. They have been treated as second-class citizens. There is a feeling that justice has not been done. And the way to take revenge is not through swords and bullets, but by pressing the button. Press the right button and show them their right place.”
Going by Shah’s version, BJP leaders defended Shah’s reference to swords and bullets, saying it came in because of the recent communal strife.
A BJP leader asked were politicians not even allowed use of analogies? Intellectuals often describe vote as the most powerful weapon “should we castigate them for the usage of the word weapon”, he said.
With Gandhi accusing Shah of spreading communalism, a BJP delegation led by vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi met the EC officials, complaining use of abusive language by both the Congress and the SP.
The BJP also latched on to SP leader Azam Khan’s controversial comments on Kargil war to counter its criticism of Shah. Spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said Shah’s remarks could not be compared with that of Khan’s whose intention showed a “cut throat” competition to get the Muslim votes.