Congress president Rahul Gandhi has in a Facebook post said that Sam Pitroda’s remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots were “absolutely and completely out of line” and he should apologise for them.
“What Mr Sam Pitroda has said is absolutely and completely out of line and is not appreciated. I will be communicating this to him directly. He must apologise for his comment,” he said, describing the riots – which claimed nearly 3,000 lives – as a “terrible tragedy”.
Pitroda had said “hua toh hua (it happened if it happened)” while trying to dismiss questions on the anti-Sikh riots on Thursday, triggering a volley of criticism across political and ideological lines.
NDTV quoted Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh as calling the remark “shocking” while Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it showed the Congress’ “character and mentality”.
ANI reported that Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal condemned Pitroda’s statement and reiterated Prime Minister Modi’s claim that the genocide had been carried out at Rajiv Gandhi’s behest.
Her cabinet colleague Arun Jaitley demanded that Pitroda be thrown out of the Congress.
In his Facebook post, Rahul Gandhi called for “stringent punishment” to those responsible for the 1984 riots and reiterated that the Congress had made its stand on the matter very clear. “The former PM, Manmohan Singh Ji, has apologised. My mother, Sonia Gandhi Ji, has apologised. We all have made our position very clear – that 1984 was a terrible tragedy and should never have happened,” his post read.
Pitroda claimed his remark had been “misrepresented and blown out of proportion”.
“What I meant was move on. We have other issues to discuss as to what the BJP government did and what it delivered. I feel sorry that my remark was misrepresented. This has been blown out of proportion,” he told news agency ANI.
The Congress leader had made the remark in response to the BJP’s claim that the Nanavati Commission, which probed the 1984 carnage, had traced the “instructions to kill” back to Rajiv Gandhi’s office.