- Sam Pitroda says comment misrepresented and blown out of proportion
- He apologised shortly after Congress distanced itself from his comment
- We advise all leaders of our party to be careful, Congress had said
Attacked by the BJP and warned by his Congress party, Sam Pitroda on Friday apologised for his "hua toh hua" comments on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which, he said, had been "misrepresented and blown out of proportion". The Indian Overseas Congress chief apologised shortly after his party distanced itself from his comments and warned all its leaders to be careful.
"What I meant was move on. We have other issues to discuss as to what the BJP government did and what it delivered. I feel sorry that my remark was misrepresented, I apologise. This has been blown out of proportion," Sam Pitroda told news agency ANI.
"Any remark made by any individual is certainly not the opinion of the party," the Congress had said earlier, facing attacks from the BJP in the middle of an acrimonious election campaign and just on the verge of the Delhi election.
"We advise all leaders of our party to be careful. Justice has to be done for 1984 as well as 2002 riots. The BJP is not interested in justice but to exploit the riots for votes," said the Congress.
Sam Pitroda, who is seen to be a mentor to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, landed in trouble with his response to the BJP's claim that the Nanavati Commission that probed the 1984 carnage had said "instructions to kill" came directly from the office of then PM Rajiv Gandhi.
"Ab kya hai 1984 ka? Aapne kya kiya 5 saal mein, uski baat kariye. 1984 mein hua toh hua. Aapne kya kiya? (You speak about what you have done in five years. It happened in 1984, so what? What have you done)," Sam Pitroda told news agency ANI, provoking a howl of protests.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it an example of the character and mentality of the Congress. "Congress, which ruled for a long time, has been insensitive and that is reflected by the three words spoken yesterday... these words have not been spoken just like that, these words are character and mentality and intentions of the Congress. And which were these words, these were 'hua toh hua'," PM Modi said.
The BJP's Delhi unit asked the police to file an FIR against Sam Pitroda.
Nearly 3,000 were killed in the carnage that followed the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Several Congress leaders were accused of leading killer mobs targeting Sikhs, mainly in Delhi. Thirty-five years on, the riots remain an emotive issue during elections in Delhi, where 1984 victims live in pockets in the east and west.