New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has drawn flak from the opposition for suggesting that actor Aamir Khan should be "taught a lesson" for his comments on intolerance last year.
- Manohar Parrikar took a swipe at Aamir Khan for his intolerance remarks
- 'Only speaking about those who speak against country,' he later clarified
- Aamir Khan made the comment last November while speaking on intolerance
The minister did not name Aamir Khan, but it was clear who he meant when he said at a book launch in Pune on Saturday, "One actor had said that his wife wants to live out of India. It was an arrogant statement. If I am poor and my house is small, but I have to love my house and always dream to make a bungalow out of it."
Mr Parrikar alleged that the controversy around the actor's comments saw people withdraw from an e-commerce portal he endorsed - he did not name Snapdeal either - and said the controversy cost Mr Khan the contract.
"Such people who speak against the country need to be taught a lesson by the people of this country," Mr Parrikar said, also talking about Delhi student leader Kanhaiya Kumar of the Jawaharlal Nehru University or JNU, who was arrested on sedition charges earlier this year.
The Congress has asked if the minister is tasked with protecting India or threatening fellow citizens, alleging a "conspiracy to hound Dalits, minorities, writers, actors and whoever dissents against the Narendra Modi government."
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi tweeted:
RSS & Parrikarji want to teach everyone a lesson. Here's a lesson for you: hate is the preserve of the coward and it never wins- Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) July 31, 2016
Mr Parrikar has since clarified that he "was only talking about people who talk against the country and not about someone's freedom of speech...I have not used anyone's name. I have not used the word 'sabak' (lesson)," he said.
It is unlikely to appease the opposition, which is expected to raise Mr Parrikar's comments in parliament today.
"Parrikar's statement should be seen in the context of nationalism. The whole intolerance campaign was a sponsored one," said BJP spokesperson Sonkar Shastri.
Aamir Khan's comments last November amid a nationwide debate on intolerance had created a huge controversy. He had spoken of his wife Kiran Rao's apprehensions, saying rising intolerance had led her to think of leaving the country.