Agencies: Mohammad Ali Jinnah played a role in India’s freedom struggle just like Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru, Gorakhpur MP Praveen Nishad said on Friday, wading into a controversy that has engulfed Uttar Pradesh over the last few days.
The comment by the newly elected NISHAD Party parliamentarian comes in the midst of violent protests over a portrait of the Pakistan founder on the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) campus. While right-wing activists and ruling party members have demanded the removal of Jinnah’s portrait, the students’ union insists that the historical figure deserves representation on the campus in his capacity as the founder member of the university court.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is politicising the issue, and this is highly condemnable. Like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, Jinnah also contributed to the freedom movement,” Nishad said.
The newly elected MP accused the BJP of trying to stir communal passions for political gain ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “Like Hindus, Muslims also participated in the freedom struggle and their contribution is well-documented. The BJP is dividing people on the basis of caste and religion by raising such issues,” he said. “When we speak of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, we also remember Ashfaqullah Khan and Veer Abdul Hameed who laid down their lives for the country. BJP wants people to forget their contribution to the cause.”
Praveen, the son of NISHAD Party president Sanjay Nishad, was propped by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party as their joint candidate for Gorakhpur Lok Sabha by-election.
Meanwhile, Aligarh district magistrate Chandra Bhushan Singh has announced the suspension of Internet services from 2 pm to Friday midnight in view of inflammatory messages related to the Jinnah controversy being widely shared on the social media.
Aligarh BJP MP Satish Gautam first stirred the controversy by asking AMU vice-chancellor Tariq Mansoor to explain the reason for Jinnah’s portrait being hung on the university campus. On Thursday, chief minister Yogi Adityanath also called for the removal of Jinnah’s portrait.