New Delhi(PTI): AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has kicked up a row by questioning the award of country's highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Owaisi, a Hyderabad MP, also objected to Padma Vibhushan being awarded to BJP patriarch and former deputy prime minister L K Advani. Owaisi's stand on the decisions of the Narendra Modi government on bestowing the top civilian honours on Vajpayee and Advani was condemned today by the BJP which said he was trying to give a "communal" colour.
"How can the country's second highest civilian honour, Padma Vibhushan, be given to Advani who was facing criminal cases (in connection with the Babri masjid demolition)," Owaisi said at a book release function here last night. "The same L K Advani who spread destruction in the country with his 'Rathyatra'...This could probably be the first instance of Padma Vibhushan being given to a person who is facing criminal cases," the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen(AIMIM) leader said.
As to Vajpayee, Owaisi alleged that the BJP stalwart had made some controversial comments on the Ayodhya issue which had some communal overtures during a speech on December 5, 1992, the videos of which were available on the YouTube. "Have we forgotten December 5 (1992)? The same Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had said 'we are going to level the ground' has been now given the Bharat Ratna," he said.
Senior BJP leader and Union Minister MoS Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi sarcastically said that it appeared some people want that Osama Bin Laden should be given a great award. "That's why those people will question the awarding people who have contributed and given sacrifices for the country, because it does not suit them, and the people who suit them are the ones who are against the country," he said.
BJP spokesman Sudhanshu Dwivedi said the efforts to take a "communal direction" by people like Owaisi on the basis of baseless and misleading issues doesn't come as a surprise to the party. "I would only say that people who are dreaming to expand their political career in India on the basis of communal hatred can only be expected of things like these," he said.
With its electoral curve showing an upward trend in Maharashtra, AIMIM is now focusing on Uttar Pradesh in an apparent move to make inroads into the support base of Samajwadi Party and BSP. 90-year-old Vajpayee, who is held in high esteem across the political spectrum, was conferred with Bharat Ratna on March 27 by President Pranab Mukherjee.
In a departure from protocol, Mukherjee drove to Vajpayee's residence at Krishna Menon marg in Delhi and presented to the ailing BJP leader the prestigious award. PTI