Indore, January 15: Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to clarify on controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik's claim that the Centre had offered him safe passage to India in exchange for his support on the abrogation of Article 370. However, senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya hit back at Singh, accusing of him unnecessarily polluting the country's atmosphere by spreading rumours about Naik's claim.
Naik, a 53-year-old radical television preacher, has been wanted in India for money laundering and inciting extremism through hate speeches. He had left India in 2016 and subsequently moved to Malaysia, where he was granted permanent residency. The controversial preacher had recently made a claim that a representative of the Narendra Modi government had approached him in Malaysia in September last year, and offered him safe passage to India in return for his support for the Centre's decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special constitutional status. BJP Felicitates Youth Who Rebutted Digvijay Singh's '15 Lakh' Jibe With 'Surgical Strikes' Counter in Public.
Digvijay Singh's Tweet
ज़रूर देखें डॉ ज़ाकिर नाइक जिसे मोदी शाह “देश द्रोही” की श्रेणी में रखे हुए हैं उनके साथ भी मोदी शाह सौदे बाज़ी में लगे थे। उनकी strategy क्या है?
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) January 15, 2020
Tweeting a video of Naik's claim, Digvijay Singh on Wednesday said, "The Prime Minister and the Home Minister should officially deny Dr Zakir Naik's allegations or else it will mean that "anti-national" Dr Zakir Naik's accusation was right." Talking to reporters in Indore hours later, Singh said, "Through a video, Naik has issued a statement saying that Modi and Amit Shah had sent an emissary to him in September 2019, who told him (Naik) that if he supports the government on abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, cases against him would be scrapped and he will be able to return to India."
"If Zakir Naik, who has been dubbed as anti-national by Modi and Shah, has given such a statement, then they should deny it," he said. "My question is why the prime minister and home minister have not refuted Naik's charge so far," the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister said.
Speaking in Indore on Wednesday afternoon, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said, "I am a member of the Modi-Shah team, but I do not have any knowledge about it (Naik' claim). Digvijay Singh is unnecessarily polluting country's atmosphere by by spreading rumours."
However, hours before criticising Digvijay Singh, Vijayvargiya met him during a road inspection visit in Indore, where the two leaders hugged each other and also indulged in banter. Members of the parliamentary standing committee on urban development, led by its chairman Jagdambika Pal, carried out the inspection of a road in Palasia area of Indore in the morning. Digvijay Singh, who is one of the committee members, was also present during the exercise when Vijayvargiya came there and met the Congress leader and others.
According to eyewitnesses, during their brief meeting, Singh and Vijayvargiya hugged each other and also indulged in a light-hearted banter. The pictures of the bonhomie between the two leaders went viral on social media.
When asked about their meeting later, Vijayvargiya told reporters that it was just a courtesy meeting. "This is the specialty of Madhya Pradesh that despite the ideological differences between the leaders of rival parties, their personal relations remain very good."