Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar dropped by Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh on Tuesday evening to express solidarity with those protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, but ended up wading into yet another controversy with his “qaatil (killer)” remark in his address to the crowd.
“I am ready for whatever sacrifices that need to be made. We will see whose hands are stronger, ours or that killer’s,” he said in the address delivered at the protest site.
The former parliamentarian claimed that while the BJP government came to power with the promise of “sabka saath, sabka vikas (everybody’s progress)”, it was now bent on ensuring “sabka saath, sabka vinaash (everybody’s destruction)”. “The government has brought out CAA and NRC to distract the public’s attention from the real issue, which is its failure to arrest the downfall of the economy. But the courageous women of Shaheen Bagh has told them that they can’t fool the people anymore,” he said.
Mr Aiyar also praised the protesters for holding the demonstration without the support of any political party. “You have said that you don’t need any politician. You have been sitting here for the last thirty days, leaving home and hearth behind,” he said, adding that the centre has no right to demand documentary proof from genuine citizens of the country.
Hundreds of women and children have been sitting on a road at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh for a month now, defying the biting cold and political pressure to become the face of countrywide protests against the controversial citizenship law. However, the Delhi High Court has now directed the police to clear the area – cops have been asked to use “persuasion” instead of force, say sources – because it happens to block the crucial Shaheen Bagh-Kalindi Kunj road linking Noida with South Delhi.
The Shaheen Bagh protest has even inspired a similar demonstration at a park in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj, where thousands have been gathering for the last three days to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
In the middle of the Gujarat assembly elections in 2017, Mr Aiyar had stoked a major controversy by calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “neech aadmi” or vile person. While the Congress responded by distancing itself from the remark and taking disciplinary action against the politician, PM Modi termed it as an “insult to Gujarat” and asked people to “show their anger” by voting for the BJP.