Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday that India has always been a tolerant nation and there is an atmosphere of complete peace in the country, reacting to allegations of growing religious tensions.
“I have already made it clear that there is an atmosphere of complete peace in the country. This country has never been intolerant and won’t be so in the future too,” Jaitley said at a press conference.
A debate has erupted over ‘growing intolerance’ in India, with many writers and filmmakers returning awards they received to protest against the government’s alleged failure to protect the secular fabric in the country and safeguard dissenters.
On Monday, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan said there was “extreme intolerance” and “not being secular in this country is the worst crime you can do as a patriot”.
“If someone says ‘there shouldn’t be intolerance in the country’ what is wrong in that?” Jaitley said, when asked about the Bollywood’s star’s remarks.
A day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi took up her party’s concerns over spiraling “intolerance” with President Pranab Mukherjee, Jaitley said irresponsible statements are fuelling an unhealthy atmosphere and that there is no point in raking these issues just for political reasons.
Jaitley had in the past called the returning of awards a “manufactured rebellion” and the personalities involved in it “rabid anti-BJP elements”. He had also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the “worst victim of ideological intolerance”.