Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has been caught in a controversy after taking a swipe at actor Aamir Khan for his last year’s comments on intolerance.
While speaking at a function in Pune, the Defence Minister didn’t name Aamir Khan or Snapdeal – the company the actor is associated with — but made it clear that the episode cost Mr Khan his endorsement contract with the e-commerce giant.
The Congress launched a scathing attack on Mr Parrikar, questioning if the minister is tasked with protecting India or threatening fellow citizens.
“An actor’s wife had talked of going out of the country,” the minister had said. “Such people need to be taught a lesson… I know there was a team that would ask people to order and cancel. The company had to be taught a lesson.” The online trading company, he said, had to pull out their advertisement.
“I was only talking about people who talk against the country and not about someone’s freedom of speech,” Mr Parrikar clarified later in the evening. “I have not used anyone’s name. I have not used the word ‘sabak’ (lesson).”
Last November, while discussing the ongoing debate on intolerance, Mr Khan had explained how the growing incidents were giving rise to a “sense of insecurity” among people. In this context, he had spoken of his wife Kiran Rao’s apprehensions, saying it led her to think of leaving the country.
It had created a huge controversy and a police case was filed against the actor and Kiran Rao. Following the episode, Mr Khan’s brand ambassadorship of Snapdeal was not renewed.
The Congress took on Mr Parrikar with some biting comments. The party vice-president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “RSS & Parrikarji want to teach everyone a lesson. Here’s a lesson for you: hate is the preserve of the coward and it never wins”
The BJP has backed Mr Parrikar. Party spokesperson Sonkar Shastri said, “Parrikar’s statement should be seen in the context of nationalism. The whole intolerance campaign was a sponsored one”.
The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia