Himanta Sarma's ‘Hussain Obamas’ tweet sparks row, Oppn reacts sharply | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Himanta Sarma's ‘Hussain Obamas’ tweet sparks row, Oppn cites PM Modi's White House statement

Jun 23, 2023 08:16 PM IST

Himanta Biswa Sarma claimed that there are many “Hussain Obama in India” and his priority will be in dealing with them.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday - a day after former US president Barack Obama commented on the protection of Muslims in India - stirred a controversy by claiming that there are many "Hussain Obamas" in the country and the state police will act according to its priorities. The Opposition was quick to hit back at the Assam chief minister.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and former US President Barack Obama
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and former US President Barack Obama

Sarma’s tweet was in response to a journalist's post on Obama’s interview to CNN on Thursday, in which he said that if US President Joe Biden met Prime Minister Modi, then the protection of the Muslim minority in a majority Hindu India is “something worth mentioning.”

“Has an FIR been filed in Guwahati yet against Obama for hurting sentiment? Is Assam police on it’s way to Washington to get Obama offloaded from some flight and arrest him?” the journalist tweeted.

The tweet was apparently referring to FIRs being lodged in Assam against opposition leaders over their remarks in different parts of the country.

The Assam Police had travelled to different locations and even made arrests, including deplaning and apprehending Congress leader Pawan Khera in February and arresting then-Independent Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani last year.

In response, Sarma wrote, “There are many Hussain Obama in India itself. We should prioritize taking care of them before considering going to Washington. The Assam police will act according to our own priorities.”

The Assam chief minister's comment comes hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a joint White House press conference with President Biden, claimed that “there is no discrimination in India” on the grounds of caste or religion because his government follows the Constitution, which is formed on the basic values of democracy.

Opposition slams Himanta Sarma

Congress spokesperson and social media head Supriya Shrinate tweeted, “‘My friend Barack’ is now Hussain Obama! Actually Himanta has answered what PM Modi was asked at White House. His insinuation - about President Obama being a muslim and Indian Muslims need to be taught a lesson - was the question’s premise. What is the PM, MEA and Govt of India’s stand on this?”

Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also reacted to Sarma's tweet. “From Barack to Hussain. A sitting BJP CM proving Barack Obama’s comments were not misplaced,” she tweeted.

Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale referred to Modi's statement in the White and said, “Less than 24 hours after PM Modi said ‘there’s no discrimination in India’, a Chief Minister from his party refers to Obama as 'Hussain Obama' (in quotes) issues a veiled threat about using his state police force ‘to take care of them in India’. This clearly exposes the hypocrisy & lies of PM Modi on the international stage.”

What did Barack Obama say?

Obama in an interview to CNN on Thursday had said that India may “pull apart” if the rights of the religious and ethnic minorities are not upheld.

“If the (US) President meets with Prime Minister Modi, then the protection of the Muslim minority in a Hindu majority India is worth mentioning. If I had a conversation with Prime Minister Modi, who I know well, part of my argument would be that if you don’t protect the rights of ethnic minorities in India, there is a strong possibility that India would at some point start pulling apart,” Obama had said.

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