Gandhi, Nehru Were Criminals - BSP MLA

. 1/7/09

If chief minister Mayawati defended legislators with criminal record in BSP by saying that they have `undergone a change of heart', one of her ministers has gone a step ahead. Awadh Pal Singh, animal husbandry and dairy development minister, created a storm by equating mafia and politicians with criminal antecedents with none other than father of the nation.

Replying to queries by reporters at a press conference in Etah, why BSP is inducting mafia-turned-politicians like DP Yadav and Aruna Shankar Shukla, Singh said that these people are not criminals and if number of criminal cases lodged against somebody were the parameter to term him a criminal, then Gandhi, Nehru, Tilak and Bose were also criminals.

It is not the first time that a BSP leader had made disparaging remarks at Gandhi. Mayawati herself in the past has described Gandhi as anti-Dalit. However, when she came to power in 2007, she directed her party functionaries to respect great leaders respected widely by masses. But within a month, BSP leader Daya Ram Sen, chairman Khadi Gram Board, got Gandhi's portrait removed from an official function in Shikohabad, leading to angry protests by Congress party.

While contributions made by our freedom fighters needs no introduction, for record sake one must know who is Awadh Pal Singh. He has over 20 criminal cases, including that of murder, dacoity, pending in the courts. People had seen Singh on TV screens, in a sting operation carried out by a news channel on April 6, 2007 on the eve of assembly elections in UP, saying that he bought the party ticket from BSP supremo Mayawati a huge sum and expressed willingness to even topple the BSP government for money. DP Yadav, erstwhile liquor baron of western UP and father of Vikas Yadav, who has been convicted in Nitish Katara murder case, also has over 30 cases of heinous crime like murder and attempt to murder, forgery, pending against him. Aruna Shankar Shukla, a listed gangster of Lucknow, is also an accused in May 1995 state guest case in which a group of SP activists tried to assault Mayawati.

The statement sparked angry protest in Etah where Congress activists came out on streets on Tuesday, burnt effigies of Mayawati and Singh. As expected, political parties also ridiculed the statement with BJP, SP and Congress leaders slapping BSP government for harbouring criminals and ministers like Singh. BSP leaders, when contacted, refused to comment, saying only Behenji can comment over the issue. While the reactions of political parties could be politically motivated, people were hurt and outraged by the remarks.

Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay award winner and social activist, said "Expecting sanity from today's politicians would be foolish as they try to justify every wrong thing they do. Mulayam Singh Yadav had also said once that Gandhi used to take donations from Birla, so what is wrong if he takes from corporate world."

Lucknow University professor Rakesh Chandra remarked ,"This only shows the intellectual bankruptcy of our politicians." Sociologist Vinod Chandra was aghast to see how definition of a criminal has been changed. "What can I say if somebody calls criminal a person like Gandhi who inspired non-violent movements in south Africa and America."

Zafaryab Jilani, member Muslim Personal Law Board, said "The minister should apologise publicly or resign because such a comment against the father of the nation is like violating Constitution of India. I think the Governor should intervene in this case."

Bharat Mahoday, director, Gandhi Vichar Parishad, Wardha, a body formed to promote Gandhian values, told TOI on telephone, "Comparing our freedom fighters with today's criminal politicians is like comparing Ganga Jal with gutter." Prof Nadeem Hasnain, pro vice-chancellor, Mahatama Gandhi International University, Wardha, said "how come these petty politicians call Gandhi, Nehru, Tilak and Bose a criminal....some day they will equate Shaheed Bhagat Singh with Osama bin Laden."

Javed Anand, Ahmedabad-based social activist, said "It's shameless and disgusting. We all know what is the contribution of leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Kalam and Bose. Comparing them with criminals like DP Yadav or Dawood Ibrahim is highly condemnable."

Shashi Prakash, a Lucknow University student, said that "Albert Einstein remarked about Gandhi that generations to come will scarce believe that such a man in flesh and blood once walked upon the surface of the earth...but even Einstein, the most intelligent person on the earth, would have never imagined that politicians like Singh will also walk upon this earth, that too in India."

The Times of India

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