Under attack by the opposition over his ‘Hafiz ji’ comment, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday said his one-year-old statement was kind of a pun and it should be seen in its full context of the video, where he had slammed terrorists.
A day after the BJP targeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi for referring to Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as ‘Masood Azhar ji’, the Congress put out a video of Prasad referring Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed as ‘Hafiz ji’.
Speaking at a Times Network event here, Prasad said, “You have to show that one-year-old video of mine in its entirety. The day we exposed Hafiz Saeed in our press conference... and showed video of that terrorist and killer. I said it in ‘vyang’ (satire). I say they are murderers and killers and terrorist and we will continue to expose them...It was kind of pun.”
When asked about his statement being described as a pun while the remark by Gandhi becoming a subject of BJP’s attack, Prasad said his remark should be seen in the totality.
“I would earnestly request... please show my entire press conference of that day, then you will see how belligerent and blistering I was against the terrorists,” Prasad, who is in charge of IT and Law ministries, said.
“Show that video... Our commitment to India, and commitment to fight against terrorism is complete. We don’t make a political bargain of it. It is our commitment that India should become a global power in the fight against terrorism and also in the field of economic, digital and other sectors,” he said.
On Monday, Prasad criticised Gandhi for calling Masood Azhar “ji”.
“Come on Rahul Gandhi Ji! Earlier it were the likes of Digvijay Ji who called Osama Ji and Hafiz Saeed Sahab. Now you are saying Masood Azhar Ji. What is happening to Congress Party?,” Prasad had tweeted.
On Tuesday, Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi shared a video of the minister referring to terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Saeed as “Hafiz ji”.
At the event Tuesday, Prasad continued his attack on Gandhi and the Congress party.
“When evidence is being sought on whether the Balakot attack has happened or not... You are seeking to disbelieve the narrative of India and, wittingly or unwittingly, you are seeking to weaken the morale of forces of India. Surely, those questions will be asked,” he said.
Asked about Priyanka Gandhi’s statement that BJP was raising useless issue like Balakot when the real issues are unemployment and demonetisation, Prasad said, “This is a question that country should understand. If she says Pulwama is a useless issue, is terrorist attack really a useless issue? That 40 CRPF jawans were killed is that ‘fizool’ (useless)?”.
“Distinction under Modi government is that we have given a clear message to terrorists that if you commit terrorism against India you have to pay the price... After 1971, for the first time our forces crossed border inside Pakistan. That is the message. If Priyanka ji considers that useless what can I say,” the minister said.
He said the Indian economy is attracting the biggest FDI in the world and had transformed into the biggest electronics manufacturing hub. “Is it fizool to her?,” he quipped.
Prasad said India is rising and emerging as a world power on the back of transformative reforms like GST.
On the issue of demonetisation, he said, “I want to say when such (black money holders) people are caught Congress has a problem”.
To a question on the BJP website being down after being hacked, Prasad said the information was wrong and the website was hacked for a few minutes.
Asked when the website will be back, he said: “We are operational”.
“There are certain rogue element in the world. It also happened in America for sometime, also in China. There are certain people in Pakistan. We keep fighting that.
“On a national highway there are accidents. Should we stop making national or information highways then? You must fasten your seat belts tight. You must maintain speed limit. Same kind of caution, we have always advised (for digital world)... have proper auditors, routine check ups,” he added.