Head on: Azad dares govt to evict him from Parliament on RSS-ISIS row

Arya Sharma/ Catch news

Head on: Azad dares govt to evict him from Parliament on RSS-ISIS row

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad dared the government to bring a privilege motion against him and send him out of the House, on the issue of his alleged comparison of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with Islamic State (IS). The issue was raised by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as Rajya Sabha proceedings started on Monday.

In the BJP-led Union Government's strongest defence of a private organisation so far, Naqvi said attacking nationalists and presenting bouquets to anti-national elements was the "grand old party's .brand new secular formula". He demanded that Azad must apologise for his statement, which he reportedly made at a private event on 12 March.

Read- Ghulam Nabi Azad's ISIS remark reflects intellectual bankruptcy of Congress: RSS

Azad, on his part, took the challenge head on and tabled a recording of his speech in the House. He also said he would give another copy of the recording to the Leader of the House Arun Jaitley, to help him ascertain the truth behind the allegations. Azad then dared the government to bring a privilege motion in the House against him and send him out, if it found anything wrong in the recording.

Defending his speech, Azad also read out the portion where the alleged references were made. He repeated his lines, which read: "We oppose ISIS and similar organisations as much as we oppose RSS... Even in Islam, we oppose anybody who acts like RSS... We must oppose Hindu, Sikh and Muslim fundamentalists equally... Today, the fight is between fundamentalism and secularism." Where is the comparison between rhe RSS with the ISIS, he asked.

Produced by: Andrew Clarance/ Catch News

The government did not let Azad's defence go unchallenged. After he finished speaking, Jaitley responded, saying that though he had always found the Leader of Opposition cultured in his speech and conduct, but he should admit that this time he has slipped up. ISIS is the biggest threat to world peace today, Jaitley added, and by comparing it with any other organisation, Azad had lent respectability to ISIS he alleged.

The matter ended there and it is not known whether the government will be interested in pushing the issue any further. RSS responded the same day, with its Communication Chief Manmohan Vaidya saying Azad's comparison of ISIS with RSS exhibited "intellectual bankruptcy of the Congress" and "its unwillingness to deal with fundamentalist and cruel forces like ISIS."

However, prominent defender of the RSS, although not its official spokesperson, Rakesh Sinha, tweeted that if Congress President Sonia Gandhi does not apologise for Azad's statement, "the discourse will become more aggressive."

Sinha also slammed the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind, which had organised the programme where Azad was speaking.

Edited by Anna Verghese

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Charu Kartikeya

Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya