Congress, BJP spar over Rushdie’s cancelled visit

New Delhi, Jan 23: The Bharatiya Janata Party Monday accused the Rajasthan government of playing an “active role” in author Salman Rushdie cancelling his visit to the Jaipur Literature Festival while the Congress termed the BJP “hypocritical” and said it was playing a “dangerous game”.

The BJP also accused the Congress of using the controversy surrounding Rushdie to gain political mileage in the Uttar Pradesh polls.

Talking to reporters here, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad called it the Rushdie visit cancellation “match-fixing” between intelligence agencies and “jehadis”.

“It is a clear case of match-fixing between intelligence agencies and jehadis in which the Congress government of Rajasthan played a supportive and active role,” Prasad said.

Rushdie had to cancel his scheduled visit to the festival in Jaipur over security fears after Muslim groups protested against his visit over “The Satanic Verses”. Rushdie cited alleged threats from the underworld as the reason for cancelling his visit.

Prasad said Rushdie had been to India on several occasions in the past but there were no protests and questioned the timing of the present controversy ahead of assembly elections in five states.

Reacting to Prasad’s remarks, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said BJP talking about communalism or communal issues “is worse than the devil quoting the scriptures.”

“Its (BJP’s) very identity is based on divisiveness… This is not only the pot calling the kettle black.. it is utter hypocrisy of the highest kind” Singhvi said.

He said all issues concerning Rushdie’s visit had been clarified. The central government has officially clarified many days ago that there has never been ban on the movement of the person or his visit or travel and the ban on the book was a different issue, he said.

“If BJP thinks the state government is not even having the power to share intelligence inputs… I think the BJP is playing a very dangerous game,”Singhvi said, adding that if any incident had occurred, BJP would have been the first to point fingers.

IANS