PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday in the Lok Sabha while replying to the ''Motion Of Thanks On the President's Address' reminded the Congress how it had missed several opportunities to enable gender equality in the Muslim community and is losing the opportunity again by opposing the Triple Talaq Bill. He also referred to a comment allegedly made by a minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government in the 1980s about the Muslim community that 'If they want to lie in the gutter, let them be'.
A stung Congress erupted into an uproar on the mention of the comment and denied making it.
Below is PM Modi's comment:
"Congress got good opportunities many times, but I don't know why, maybe they are always flying high that is why they miss many issues. In the 1950s, the Uniform Civil Code was being debated. Congress had the opportunity, but they missed it. They brought the Hindu Code Bill and went ahead. Thirty-five years later, Congress got a second opportunity during the Shah Bano case. The Supreme Court helped in every possible way and an environment was created in the country for gender equality but Congress was flying high and refused to see the reality on the ground, even that opportunity was missed by the Congress. Today, another 35 years later, Congress has another opportunity. We have brought a bill for the dignity of India's women. There's no need to link it to communalism.
"I want Congress to know this. When the Shah Bano case was going on, there was a minister in the Congress government back then, his comment in a TV interview back then was shocking. I didn't get an opportunity to verify it but I am saying what I heard. He spoke about what he heard from ministers in the Congress government back then. He said this when the Shah Bano case was going on, a Congress minister said that 'upliftment of Muslims is not the Congress party's responsibility'. It's a serious issue. 'Upliftment of muslims is not Congress party's responsibility. If they want to lie in the gutter, let them be'. They are citizens of our country."
The remark led an uproar in the Lower House as a furious Congress denied ever making the comment.
As per reports, the comment referred to by the Prime Minister was cited by former Congress leader Arif Mohammad Khan in a TV interview where he had recently spoken about the attitude of the party in the 1980s with regards to gender equality for Muslims. He had said that the party leadership "were of the opinion that it was not the job of the Congress party to reform Muslims, (they said) “if they want to lie in the gutter, let them be”.