NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: The BJP held protests across the country on Saturday against Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto’s “uncivilized and distasteful” personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the party sought to rally support over the issue.
BJP leaders and workers took out marches in various state capitals, burnt Bhutto’s effigies, called him a “‘vidwesh mantri’ (hatred minister)” and demanded he apologises to the 135 crore people of India.
“India came together to condemn and protest Bhutto’s uncivilized and distasteful comment on PM Modi,” the party said, adding that protests were held in every state.
The Pakistani foreign minister made remarks against PM Modi and slammed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) after India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar highlighted at the United Nations Security Council meeting Pakistan’s support to various terror groups and described the country as the “epicentre of terrorism”.
The march of party workers in Lucknow was led by Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, and in Patna by state BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal.
“Thousands of BJP workers marched from the Uttar Pradesh BJP office to the Atal Chowk (in Hazratganj), and raised slogans against Bilawal Bhutto. The party workers, under the leadership of state BJP chief Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, also burnt an effigy of the Pakistani foreign minister,” party spokesperson Hero Bajpai told PTI.
“Bilawal Bhutto is not a ‘videsh mantri’ (foreign minister), he is a ‘vidwesh mantri’ (hostility minister),” he said.
Speaking to reporters, Chaudhary said, “The statement given by the foreign minister of Pakistan on Prime Minister Narendra Modi is extremely objectionable. On behalf of the 135 crore people of India, I demand that he withdraw the bad words he said about our prime minister, take back his statement, and tender an apology to the people (of India).”
In a statement issued in Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh BJP said Bhutto’s remark indicates his frustration and mental bankruptcy. “Today, the identity of Pakistan on the world stage has become that of a country that nurtures and promotes terrorism. Terrorism factory runs in Pakistan,” he said.
He also lauded PM Modi saying that under his leadership India has been recognised as a strong nation on the world stage. India’s foreign policy is being appreciated all over. India’s respect has increased in the entire world,” Chaudhary said, adding Bhutto has put another stigma on Pakistan by his indecent statement.
In Uttar Pradesh, reports of protests were also received from Amethi, Unnao, Muzaffarangar, Baghpat, Bhadohi, Ballia, Meerut, Bulandshahr, Maharajganj and Budaun.
Manupal Bansal, a BJP member of zila panchayat of Baghpat, said he would give Rs 2-crore reward to anyone beheading the Pakistani foreign minister.
“I declare that I will give a reward of Rs 2 crore to anyone who will behead minister Bilawal Bhutto),” Bansal told a protest gathering at the collectorate in Bhadohi.
His announcement was followed by slogans of ‘Manupal Bansal zindabad’ by the crowd.
Later speaking to PTI, Bansal said he stood by his statement. “Yes, I have made that statement today. If they are saying such things about our prime minister, whom we respect a lot, then we are not going to tolerate such a person. We are having tremendous attachment with our prime minister, and if we have to do anything for him, we will have no problem,” he said.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP unit took out a march from the party’s office in Jawahar Nagar, raising slogans against Bhutto and demanding an apology from him.
“This march is part of the country-wide protests by BJP against Bhutto’s shameless comments against our beloved prime minister. This protest is against Pakistan which is a terror state,” party’s Kashmir media incharge, Manzoor Ahmad, told reporters.
BJP’s Maharashtra chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule, several party MLAs and other leaders took part in the protest at Tilak Chowk in Pune. They burnt Pakistan’s flags and also raised anti-Pakistan slogans. Protests were also held in Nashik.
“We will not tolerate any statement against our prime minister. PM Narendra Modi is the one who is striving hard to save our Hindu religion, and Pakistan is unable to see it. That is why they are making such statements. In future, we will not tolerate such remarks from Pakistan,” Bawankule said.
BJP state women’s wing head Chitra Wagh, former Pune mayor Murlidhar Mohol also took part in the protest.
Protests were also reported from Gujarat’s Rajkot, Vadodara, Gandhinagar, Botad, Mahisagar, Junagadh and many other places.
In Gandhinagar, a delegation led by state BJP’s Yuva Morcha president Prashant Korat submitted a memorandum criticising Pakistan and the minister to Governor Acharya Devvrat at Raj Bhavan.
“What Bhutto said was an insult to the entire country and its countrymen, not just PM Modi. BJP workers, as well as citizens, have joined a state-wide protest against Bhutto’s remarks,” Korat told reporters.
Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil dubbed Pakistan a ‘beggar’ and said Bhutto’s remarks on PM Modi have attracted criticism from the entire world. He said the people of India will never tolerate such comments against the PM.
“The entire country is angry over Bhutto’s vile and shameful remarks about PM Modi. Pakistan is no less than a beggar. Its economy is so weak that Pakistan is forced to sell their assets, even its donkeys, to keep the country running. Pakistan needs to focus on their own condition before commenting on others. The entire world knows the misdeeds of the Bhutto family” said Paatil.
Among those who took part in the protest in Goa’s Panaji were state BJP chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade, MLAs Daji Salkar, Sankalp Amonkar, former Lok Sabha MP Narendra Sawaikar, former legislator Damodar Naik and the party’s state Yuva Morcha president Sameer Mandrekar. The protesters burnt an effigy of Bhutto near the party’s head office in Panaji.
Tanavade said Bhutto’s comment reflects the frustration of Pakistan at the respect PM Modi has garnered globally for his statesmanship. (PTI)