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BJP MP sparks row over Jinnah portrait in AMU, UP minister ridicules stand

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Aligarh MP Satish Gautam stirred up a controversy by writing to Aligarh Muslim University vice chancellor Tariq Mansoor, seeking to know the logic behind Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait on the university campus.

lucknow Updated: May 02, 2018 15:22 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey and Hemendra Chaturvedi
Manish Chandra Pandey and Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow/Agra
Bharatiya Janata Party,Aligarh MP,Satish Gautam
Within hours of Gautam’s letter going public, UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya of the BJP described his party MP’s demand for removal of Jinnah’s portrait as ‘ghatiya’ (cheap). (HT File )

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Aligarh MP Satish Gautam stirred up a controversy by writing to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) vice chancellor Tariq Mansoor, seeking to know the logic behind Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait on the university campus.

Within hours of Gautam’s letter going public, UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya of the BJP described his party MP’s demand for removal of Jinnah’s portrait as ‘ghatiya’ (cheap).

Gautam had written to the AMU vice-chancellor, asking as to in which department such a portrait had been placed “when it is well known that Jinnah was the man behind India’s partition”.

Shafey Kidwai, the official spokesperson for Aligarh Muslim University, confirmed Jinnah’s portrait existed in Union Hall of University as a gesture towards those accorded Life Membership by the Student Union of Aligarh Muslim University.

‘I got to know from sources that portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, has been placed on campus of Aligarh Muslim University. I have written a letter to the vice chancellor seeking information if such portrait is placed and if yes, than in which department,” Gautam said on Tuesday.

“I have enquired about the ‘logic’ of having portrait of Jinnah on the university campus as Jinnah was the man responsible for the partition of India and creation of Pakistan,” the BJP MP confirmed.

The AMU authorities said the Jinnah portrait on the campus was part of a tradition.

“Jinnah was granted life membership on the campus as part of a tradition followed since 1920. Jinnah had visited the AMU campus and the then staff association and students union which granted life membership to Mahatma Gandhi too, must have found Jinnah worthy of the honour,” Kidwai said justifying Jinnah’s portrait on campus.

The AMU campus also has portraits of Jawahar Lal Nehru, C Rajagoapalachari among others, he said.

“Why such issues are being raised now 70 years after Independence,” Kidwai asked, stating he smelt politics behind the fresh row.

Maurya, however, contradicted his party MP’s stand on the Jinnah row, calling it ‘nonsensical.’

“Irrespective of who makes such nonsensical statements, whether our MPs or anyone else, these statements have no meaning in a democracy. Before independence, Jinnah too had made a contribution in the freedom struggle of our country,” Maurya said in Kanpur.

The minister made it clear that anyone raising fingers over ‘great personalities’ wasn’t doing the right thing.

In fact, he used the word ‘ghatiya’ meaning cheap to describe the statement, a rather sharp criticism of his own party MP’s view.

Jin maha-purushon ke yogdaan iss rashtra ke nirmaan mein raha hai, yadi unn par koi ungli uthaata hai to yeh ‘ghatiya’ baat hai. Desh ke batwaare se pehle Jinnah ka yogdaan bhi iss desh mein tha (Fingers are being pointed at those who have contributed to nation’s cause is unfortunate. Prior to the partition, even Jinnah had contributed to nation),” Maurya said in Kanpur.

None in the BJP was willing to make a comment on the two diametrically opposite views taken by party leaders on the ‘Jinnah’ issue.

The RSS has always favoured ‘akhand bharat’ or united India and has held Jinnah responsible for the partition of India.

“I don’t know how anyone can hail Jinnah’s role in nation building,” an RSS leader said, highlighting the ideological conflict within the BJP.

Swami Prasad Maurya has had a lateral entry into the BJP after having spent nearly two decades in the BSP.

Earlier, an RSS activist had sought permission to hold a ‘Shakha’ on the university campus.

First Published: May 02, 2018 15:22 IST

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