Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a “mahapurush (great man)” who contributed to India’s struggle for freedom, says Savitri Bai Phule, a parliamentarian of BJP, as she walked into a political controversy over the founder of Pakistan. Ms Phule, who can often be been seen deviating from the party line on a lot of subjects, also said Jinnah’s portrait is in the Lok Sabha inside Parliament House and “should find a place wherever required”.
“Jinnah was a great man, he fought for the nation. Jinnah’s portrait features on the walls of Lok Sabha. He should be remembered respectfully; his portraits should find a place wherever required. The controversy being created to divert focus from Dalit issues, I don’t agree with all this,” the MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich said on Thursday.
“Be it from any caste or religion, people laid sacrifices for the nation to attain independence. Such great men must be respected. All those who sacrificed for the nation’s independence must be respected,” she asserted.
Jinnah, a much-debated figure from India’s independence movement, resurfaced in public eye after BJP lawmaker Satish Gautam last month wrote to the Aligarh Muslim University demanding to know why his portrait was hanging on the wall of the students’ union office.
The university told why the portrait had been there for decades since he was a founder member of the university court and had been given life membership of the union 80 years ago.
Ms Phule in recent weeks has targeted her own party governments at the centre and in UP over the treatment of Dalits. She was strongly critical of the BJP’s dinner-with-Dalits outreach, which has been bedevilled by gaffes from the party’s ministers in UP.
Some groups then protested at the university and clashed with the police as they tried to pull down the portrait.