New Delhi, Oct 29: Congress on Friday, Oct 30 termed as "unfortunate" the remarks made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that those returning awards were "rabid anti-BJP elements" and their protest was a 'manufactured' rebellion."
Jaitley said it is a manufactured crisis. I don't think he understands. I think there is indeed a manufacturing crisis in the country. It must be a bad choice of words by him.
It is definitely a manufacturing crisis in the country but as far as the issue of intolerance goes, it is a huge challenge.
"Whoever objects to the anti-people, anti-democratic action of this government is labelled as Congress person or a Congress stooge, which is very unfortunate. If you look at most of these people in different sections of the society, they have protested even against Congress," party spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said.
Earlier in the day, Jaitley had slammed the protest by writers and film-makers for returning their Sahitya Akademi awards and National awards citing "rising intolerance" in the country, as a "manufactured protest".
Hitting out at the personalities returning awards as "rabid anti-BJP elements", the Finance Minister today recalled that some of them had also gone to Varanasi to campaign against Narendra Modi in the last general elections.
"Those returning awards are playing politics by other means. They are rabid anti-BJP elements," Jaitley, who also holds charge of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, told reporters in Patna to a question on the returning of awards by writers and film-makers.
Stating that space of the Left has reduced, he claimed that those returning awards were in a way electioneering against the BJP in Bihar polls.
Rejecting the argument, the Congress spokesperson said, "whether it is writers, movie directors, FIII students, scientists or social scientists, it is very obvious that people from all walks of life have realised this government's level of intolerance, level of ability to intimidate. The government's ability to threaten is very dangerous."
He said that Congress would request the Prime Minister and ministers in the government to introspect on the issue instead of Jaitley.
Noting that these personalities had also protested against Congress in the past, Kumar said, "we take their protest as part of the process of democratic culture but the BJP and RSS and their likes of these people have total abhorrence to any kind of opposition and freedom of speech."
His remarks came in response to a question about more than 50 historians writing to the Prime Minister again, protesting against the climate of intolerance in the country.