Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich Savitri Bai Phule on Thursday called Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah a “Maha Purush (great man)” and said that he contributed to India's Independence.
"Jinnah was a maha purush and will always remain so. He had contributed in country`s independence," Phule said.
The BJP MP’s remark came amid the row over a portrait of Jinnah hanging inside the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus.
Earlier, Phule’s colleague and another BJP MP from Aligarh Satish Kumar Gautam had objected to the portrait of the founder of Pakistan and wrote to the AMU VC, seeking removal of the portrait.
After the BJP leader’s objection, Aligarh Muslim University came out with a clarification and said the Jinnah was awarded an honorary degree in 1938 and the administration had nothing to do with it.
However, the BJP MP’s objection to Jinnah’s portrait triggered students protests that led to exams being postponed.
As many as 3000 students from Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Allahabad University joined the protests and raised slogans against the BJP MP for allegedly communalising the campus environment.
The opposition Congress also jumped into the controversy and accused the BJP of doing "dirty politics of sensationalism, divisiveness, polarisation" and sought condemnation of the act.