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‘Intolerance’ claims aimed at distracting attention: Heptulla

Najma Heptulla

New Delhi : Union Minister Najma Heptulla today said claims of “intolerance” against the NDA government were aimed at distracting attention from Narendra Modi government’s development works and averred that the government is committed towards protecting Constitution and welfare of minorities.

As the political slugfest over “climate of intolerance” escalates, Minority Affairs Minister Heptulla said opposition parties are blowing up “one-odd” incidents as Modi’s development agenda is not going down well with them even as she, indirectly, held previous regimes responsible for present development deficit of minorities.

Among other issues, she also advised Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, who recently expressed concerns over “intolerance”, to guide people on tolerance than complaining in this regard.

“I feel pity for those who try to gain political mileage out of one-odd incidents, politicise the same. It is this weakness of their politics, they do not have any programme.

“The allegations are dead opposite of reality and are in accordance with a plan to distract attention from Modi’s development work. The government is committed to bridging development deficit of minorities and protecting Constitution,” she asserted.

Heptulla said development deficit of minorities was highest when she took charge of the ministry a year-and-half ago and held the previous regimes of UPA responsible for it.

She said Modi has extended his “complete” support towards bridging the deficiency in terms of training the youth from minority communities and their economic and social backwardness.

“I have been heading a department which is social, whose development deficit has been highest of all. During this period, I have received complete support from Narendra Modi and his government. So, to claim that there is intolerance…I don’t buy these claims,” she said.

Advising Shah Rukh, Heptulla asked him to speak about tolerance and integrity in the country as people will follow his words, instead of complaining.

She maintained her party members would not have criticised the actor had he not made the remark in the first place.

“Had he not said anything of that sort, people from my party would not have made such comments. People from my party have not commented on their own, but have only reacted to his remark,” she said.

Shah Rukh had on Monday come out strongly against what he called “extreme intolerance” in the country, saying intolerance towards creativity and religion will hurt the country.      Reacting to the same, senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya yesterday attacked the Bollywood superstar over the comment saying his “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India and also painted him as an “anti-nationalist”.

While Vijayvargiya today retracted his tweet, BJP distanced itself from his remarks saying what he has said is “not the view of the BJP”.

Controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath also compared Shah Rukh to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of Mumbai carnage, and suggested that he go to Pakistan.

Heptulla also hailed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement that India can never be intolerant. “India has embraced people from all over the world. What Arun Jaitley said is absolutely correct, we are most tolerant in the world,” she said.

Replying to queries pertaining to Congress’s protest march to President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue of intolerance yesterday, Jaitley had stressed that “there is harmony in the country, which has never been intolerant and will never be.”

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