The BJP and Congress on Wednesday slammed senior Samajwadi Party leader Mohammad Azam Khan for what they described as objectionable comments on Kashmir.
Khan had told mediapersons in Badaun on Tuesday that there was only one Muslim cabinet minister in the central government - Ghulam Nabi Azad - and he was from Kashmir, not India. Khan further said Azad was from a region "over which there is a dispute on whether it is part of India".
Khan referred to Azad while hitting out at the Congress for "not being serious about upholding the interests of minorities".
On Wednesday, however, Khan made a hasty retreat, saying in Rampur that "Kashmir is an integral part of India". But by then, his comments in Badaun had provided enough fodder to the BJP and the Congress to attack the SP for playing Muslim vote-bank politics.
Uttar Pradesh BJP president Surya Pratap Shahi demanded registration of an FIR against Khan for his "anti-India and anti-Constitution" comments on Kashmir. Shahi said, "SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's silence on Khan's statements indicated his tacit approval of the comments."
The BJP leader said Khan's remarks amounted to treason.
Congress legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari said Khan's statements appeared to be those of a "Pakistani minister" and not of a senior Indian politician. He said Yadav must clarify his party's stand on the issue.
Defending Khan, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said the statement should be understood in the context in which it was made. "Khan spoke with regard to the problem of Kashmir which is the outcome of Congress policies and it should not be read out of context," Chaudhary said.
With PTI inputs