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BJP MP Gopal Shetty kicks off a row over controversial statement on minorities

Saturday, July 07, 2018
By Prashant Hamine

Congress led opposition yesterday slammed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai North Gopal Shetty for making controversial statements against the Christian community role in the country's freedom struggle. However, sticking to his statement the BJP MP argued that his statement was misinterpreted. Later in the day as the opposition began slamming him for his remarks, Shetty offered to tender his resignation. But senior BJP chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari and state BJP president Raosaheb Danve convinced Shetty not to take such a drastic step.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president and Lok Sabha MP Ashok Chavan demanded that the BJP should apologise for the statement of Shetty. Taking to twitter Chavan stated that Shetty's remarks reflect despicable communal mindset of the BJP. He added that the freedom struggle is the epitome of sacrifices made by all the communities, including Christians. Chavan added that Shetty must know that only Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was in support of the British.

On Sunday while addressing a public rally in Malvani had remarked that the Christian community had no role in the independence movement and in freedom of the nation. He  said, only Muslims and Hindus had contributed in the freedom movement and Christians being British did not participate in it.

As the criticism over his comments mounted, the BJP MP argued that his statement was misinterpreted and only a portion of his comments were shown in the media. Shetty clarified that while speaking he had stated that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government through its “Saabka Saath, Saabka Vikas” has focused for inclusive development of all communities including Muslims, Hindus and Christians as well. He added that he was willing to tender his resignation as an MP if the party came into trouble.

Reacting to the criticism, state BJP chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari refuted claims that Shetty had been directed by the central leadership in New Delhi to clarify and expressed their displeasure. The state BJP spokesperson convinced Shetty not to tender his resignation. The BJP later stated that the remarks of Shetty were the latter's personal opinion and not the official party line.

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