NEW DELHI: Hours after Rahul Gandhi said senior Congress leader Sam Pitroda should be ashamed for his comment on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Prime Minister Narendra Modi retorted, directly attacking the Congress president: “Arrey naamdar, you should be ashamed.”
Earlier on Monday Rahul Gandhi, addressing an election rally in Punjab’s Fatehgarh Sahib, had said: “What Sam Pitroda said about 1984 is absolutely wrong and he should apologise to the nation for it. I told him this over the phone, I told him what he said was wrong, he should be ashamed and apologise publicly.”
Sam Pitroda, the overseas Indian Congress chief who is seen to have mentored Rahul Gandhi, had provoked outrage when he said “hua to hua (what happened, happened)” in response to the BJP’s attacks on the Congress over the carnage that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards, which left nearly 3,000 dead.
Sam Pitroda apologized later, and to underscore the point, Rahul Gandhi told NDTV: “Sam Pitroda was wrong to say what he did. I told him that you cannot say things like this.”
The PM made it clear, as he addressed a rally around 200 km away in Bathinda, that the apology meant nothing. He delivered the message using the word “Naamdar” or dynast.
“I was watching that naamdar told his Guru that he should be ashamed of what he said. I want to ask naamdar, you pretended to scold your mentor for what? Because he exposed what was always in the Congress’s heart, and in the discussions of the naamdar family? Because he made public a family secret? Arrey naamdar, it is you who should be ashamed,” said the Prime Minister.
The row began over the BJP’s claim that the Nanavati Commission, which probed the 1984 carnage, had found that “instructions to kill”came from the office of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, the father of Rahul Gandhi.
The BJP’s 1984 attacks intensified last week, ahead of voting on Sunday in Delhi, which saw the worst of the mob killings allegedly incited by Congress leaders in 1984. Over three decades later, the riots remain an emotive campaign issue in Delhi and also Punjab.