Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday rebuked his party's overseas unit chief Sam Pitroda, saying that he asked the latter to apologise to the country for his remarks on 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Speaking in an exclusive interview to News Nation, Rahul said: “There cannot be ‘hua toh hua’. Justice should be delivered and those who have done wrong should be punished. I have clearly told Sam Pitroda to say sorry and apologise, you should not have said this.”
Rahul's remarks came in an apparent damage control exercise after an uproar over Pitroda's "hua toh hua" response to a query on the riots.
Earlier in the day, Rahul, addressing a poll rally in Punjab’s Khanna, had said that Pitroda should be “ashamed” for his "totally wrong" remarks on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and should apologise to the country.
"What Sam Pitroda said about 1984 was totally wrong and he should seek an apology from the country.
"I am saying this publicly and I also told the same to him over phone. Pitroda ji, what you had said was completely wrong and you should be ashamed of yourself. You should seek a public apology," Gandhi said towards the end of his speech.
Soon after, addressing a rally in Punjab's Fatehgarh Sahib, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that it is the Congress chief who should be ashamed.
The BJP stepped up offensive against the Congress over Pitroda's remarks as the 1984 riots is an emotive issue in Punjab which is going to poll on May 19.
During campaigning in Haryana's Rohtak district and in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday had said the comments reflected the "character and arrogance" of the opposition party.
Replying to a reporter's question on the 1984 riots, Pitroda, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi and head of the Overseas Congress said last week, "Hua to hua..."
Facing a mounting attack from the BJP, Pitroda apologised for his remarks and said that they had been “misrepresented and blown out of proportion.”
“The statement I made was completely twisted, taken out of context because my Hindi isn't good, what I meant was 'jo hua vo bura hua,' I couldn't translate 'bura' in my mind,” he said.
“What I meant was move on. We have other issues to discuss as to what BJP govt did and what it delivered. I feel sorry that my remark was misrepresented, I apologise. This has been blown out of proportion,” he added.