Ahmedabad, Apr 22 (PTI): Bharatiya Janata Party leader Narendra Modi, facing a huge backlash from other parties for some explosive comments against Muslims made by senior leaders, sought to downplay the issue on Tuesday.
BJP leader Giriraj Singh had said that those opposing Modi should be sent to Pakistan, while Praveen Togadia of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had asked his supporters to oust a Muslim family from a house it had bought in a Hindu-majority area of Bhavnagar.
Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, said he disapproved of “petty” statements by those claiming to be the BJP’s well-wishers as they are shifting the focus of his campaign.
”Petty statements by those claiming to be BJP's well-wishers are deviating the campaign from the issues of development and good governance,” Modi said.
”I disapprove (of) any such irresponsible statements and appeal to those making them to kindly refrain from doing so,” he said in a series of tweets on micro-blogging site Twitter.
The Congress and other parties had reacted sharply to the comments by Giriraj and Togadia, blasting Modi as well as the BJP for not coming clean on the statements made by two leaders.
On Giriraj Singh's comment, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said on Monday that he would ”prefer to go to Pakistan” rather than stop criticising Modi.
Addressing an election rally in Anantnag district, he had said, “I will prefer to go to Pakistan than stop criticising Modi… Thanks to the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, I won't have to go to New Delhi. I can board the bus from here only.”
In Amritsar, BJP leader Arun Jaitley appealed to party well wishers to exercise “utmost restraint” while making statements.
”Every sensible well-wisher of the BJP is expected to exercise utmost restraint and concentrate on issue of governance, which is the theme of our campaign. Any statement to the contrary will only help our rivals,” he said.
Jaitley, who is pitted against Congress candidate Amarinder Singh in Amritsar, said, “People expect us to govern and deliver. Today, the flood lights are on us. We will now be increasingly put under public scrutiny. Even an isolated irresponsible statement will bring discredit to us.”
Focusing on the issue of governance during the campaign, Jaitley wrote in his blog, “The momentum is with us. There is clarity in the campaign. We have fought this election on issues of governance. We must carry every section of society with us.”