The Congress on Tuesday distanced itself from its leader Salman Khurshid on Tuesday after he said the party’s hands were stained with blood, while the BJP seized the moment to claim that it was an "acknowledgement" of its history of "engineering communal riots".
Khurshid made the remarks at an event in Aligarh Muslim University on Sunday in response to a student accusing the Congress of having Muslim blood on its hands and asking how the party proposed to wash it off.
"It is a political question. There is blood on our hands. I am also a part of the Congress so let me say it, we have blood on our hands,” Khurshid said, triggering a row.
The remarks went viral as he told reporters today that he would continue to say what he said when asked if he would stick to his comments.
"Have you ever known me to withdraw a statement? What I said, I will continue to say. What I didn't say, I will never say," Khurshid said.
The Congress, however, "disagreed completely" with Khurshid.
“All leaders must remember that such unfounded statements only help the cause of those in power today who seek to divide the society on caste and communal lines to retain and attain power at any cost," Congress spokesperson PL Punia told reporters in the capital.
The BJP used Khurshid's remarks to attack the Congress with Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi raking up a number of riots, including in Bhiwandi, Bhagalpur and Malegaon besides the one against Sikhs in 1984.
Khurshid’s remark was an "acknowledgement" of the Congress' history of "engineering communal riots", he said, adding it continued to practise the same politics of creating division and tensions to get votes.
Naqvi said the Congress always wore a mask of secularism but practised communalism and added that people wanted it to "accept" truth and come clean after Khurshid made his "individual confession".
Over 50,000 riots took place under the Congress governments which claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people, he claimed.
Punia said the Congress was the only party that worked towards building an egalitarian society by carrying all sections of the people, including SCs/STs and minorities before and after Independence era. The intrinsic values, he alleged, were under attack now with the BJP in power.
"The Congress is a history-sheeter as far as communal riots are concerned. It has practised politics of divide and rule while using castes and communities to sow division in society. It created social tensions for votes. It continues with this tradition," he said.
Asked if he made the remarks as a member of the Congress, Khurshid replied he did so "as a human being".
"It's the party that has given everything that I have today. And why should I step aside when my party is attacked? I must answer anyone who attacks my party and I do it to the best of my ability," Khurshid added.