THE CONGRESS Sunday launched a fierce attack on Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar over his jibe at actor Aamir Khan for remarks on intolerance. In a tweet, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi said: “RSS & Parrikarji want to teach everyone a lesson. Here’s a lesson for you: hate is the preserve of the coward and it never wins.”
The main opposition party also accused the BJP and RSS of a “concerted conspiracy” to hound Dalits, minorities, writers, actors and whoever dissents against the government and wondered whether Parrikar’s job is to protect India from external aggressors like Pakistan or threaten fellow countrymen.
On Saturday, Parrikar had said at a function in Pune that anyone speaking against the country must be “taught a lesson” in the same way that “an actor” and an “online trading company” were taught.
Although he took no names, in November 2015, at the Ramnath Goenka Awards, Aamir had spoken about a “sense of insecurity” resulting from increasing intolerance in the country. A few months later, e-commerce giant Snapdeal, for which Aamir was the brand ambassador, did not renew his contract. Snapdeal had earlier faced a strong backlash on social media, including a reported loss of customers.
Facing criticism, Parrikar Sunday said he never used the word “lesson” and that what he meant was, “You have to build pressure, you have to build the public opinion that people who love their country should not be silent on these issues.”
“Those who speak against the country, there has to be a public opinion about that. I was not pointing out at anyone specifically,” he said at an event in Jabalpur. “I was speaking only about those who want bad for this country. I was not talking about freedom of speech.”