The raging controversy sparked by an unsavoury comment that former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma had made on Prophet Muhammad has dampened the celebrations of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government completing eight years in power, which the party had begun with much fanfare only week back or so.
Worried over the unfolding fallout of the row globally, the BJP is trying to control the damage the controversy has caused to its government at the Centre, said party sources on Wednesday. The party high command has taken a slew of measures in recent days, while wondering what went wrong. It is not that a party leader has stirred a hornet’s nest the first time. Many of its leaders are known to make outrageous statements off and on.
The BJP has, though, dismissed Sharma from primary membership of the party for 6 years, along with its Delhi unit media head Naveen Jindal, the controversy has refused to die. Sharma has also apologised for her intemperate remarks against Prophet Muhammad.
According to sources, the party is feeling the heat so much so that its high command was forced to issue guidelines on Tuesday to all party spokespersons directing them not to comment on any religious issues, participate in religious debate and speak against gurus of any religion or their deities. The
directive is being seen as an exercise in damage control, said sources.
An immediate fallout of the ongoing controversy is that it has dampened the celebrations the party had so elaborately planned across states this month to mark the completion of 8 years in office by the BJP government at the Centre under Prime Minister Modi.
Nupur Sharma had made the controversial remark in a TV debate on May 27, it snowballed into an international controversy after it sparked a riot in Kanpur a week later on June 3. More than 15 Muslim countries from the Gulf and other regions, considered India’s friends, have taken strong exception to the irresponsible remarks made by Sharma and have expressed their displeasure known to India in no uncertain terms. Some countries have gone to the extent of banning Indian goods.
This has happened even when Prime Minister Modi has worked so assiduously toward cementing India’s ties with the Arab world. His efforts stood India in good stead when the country launched surgical strike against terrorist launch pads in Pakistan and abrogated Article 370. All these countries had supported India despite Pakistan decrying India’s actions. Saudi Arabia had bestowed its highest civilian honour on Prime Minister Modi in 2016.
Apparently the reaction from Islamic and other countries has put both the government and the BJP on back foot.