I obviously don’t believe Congress has blood on its clothes: Salman Khurshid

Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid speaks about the recent controversy over his remarks at an event.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2018 15:41 IST
Prashant Jha
Prashant Jha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Salman Khurshid,Congress,Muslims
At a recent event, Congress leader Salman Khurshid was reported to have said that Congress had Muslim blood on its hands.(PT File Photo)

Salman Khurshid, senior Congress leader and former Union minister, is in the eye of a storm over remarks attributed to him at an event in the Aligarh Muslim University on Tuesday. He spoke to HT about the statements,and his message to minorities. Edited excerpts:

You are reported to have said that Congress has Muslim blood on its hands. Can you explain what you meant and the context?

I was in Aligarh for the annual day of the BR Ambedkar Hall. I spoke about the university, and about major issues of the day such as triple talaq. One student - an ex-student I later learnt - came forward to ask a question. The format did not allow Q & A, yet I asked him to go ahead. He said there is blood on your clothes because of Babri Masjid and mentioned other riots. I asked him, I have blood? He said your party. I said I am my party, I represent my party, and said that because you said this, does it mean that if someone attacks you tomorrow, I should not come to protect you? I added that 10 years from now, you may not have the courage to ask this question.

I obviously don’t believe Congress has blood on its clothes. When someone makes an accusation, you may have a certain way of responding. You can say, even if this is true; what does it mean? This is not a declaration that it is true. Look at the video. Why would I say such a thing? Was I in an election campaign against the Congress party? And I don’t even want to get into the semantic difference between blood on my clothes and blood in my hands.

So in the course of answering the question, you did not agree that the party indeed has blood on its hands?

How could I? Why would I then talk about protecting the person? A murderer does not tell a victim that he would like to protect him. A murderer falsely accused of murder can say that. If I say, I may be a murderer, it does not make me a murderer. If people cannot understand this, they really need to go back to school. How do you have an honest conversation in this country anymore?

Let’s go back to the larger question he was asking. Do you agree that there has been communal violence -- Babri, Muzaffarnagar -- under Congress?

It is important to look at the good things that a party may have done, too, for a fair assessment. Has Congress done nothing for this country, nothing for Muslims? This is a longer conversation and if I had to comment on it, I would write a book; I would speak at a lecture series; I would speak at party events.

Some interpreted your comments as a signal of discontent against the party because you have not got an adequate role.

I did not make the comments at all, so the question does not arise. This party has given me more than enough; what else can it give me? Till the end of my life, I will be repaying the debt I owe to this party. Why should I have a problem with the party? And I hope and wish the party also never has a problem with me. But I cannot stop thinking. I have had a career in education, in university, and I hope I am considered a little bit of a thinker. I can’t switch off my mind.

The best party for me, all my life, is and will be the Congress. But if I say Congress has made no mistakes, it will not come across as honest either. We have made mistakes but we have paid a political price and we have to move on.

My message to the minorities is this - in the process of hurting Congress, you are hurting yourself. You have brought the BJP to power. You now have to decide whether you want to keep it in power or rethink.

The BJP has said your remarks are an acknowledgement of Congress’ fake secularism.

If they give so much weight to my words, here is what I have to say about them - BJP has introduced fascist violence and poison in Indian society. Do they accept that as well?

First Published: Apr 26, 2018 09:35 IST