Lacerated over the comments of its top leader Sam Pitroda on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots on the verge of voting in Delhi for the national election, the Congress today distanced itself from "remarks made by any individual" and cautioned its leaders to be careful.
"Any remark made by any individual is certainly not the opinion of the party," the Congress said.
"We advise all leaders of our party to be careful. Justice has to be done for 1984 as well as 2002 riots," the party added in its statement. "The BJP is not interested in justice but to exploit the riots for votes."
On Thursday, Sam Pitroda, the Indian Overseas Congress chief, had made the comment when he was asked about the BJP's claim that the Nanavati Commission that probed the 1984 carnage had recorded that "instructions to kill" came directly from the office of then PM Rajiv Gandhi.
"I don't think so, this is also another lie, and what about 1984? Ab kya hai 1984 ka? Aapne kya kiya 5 saal mein, uski baat kariye. 1984 mein hua to 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, the overseas Congress chief, told news agency ANI.
The comment was seized by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, at a public rally, called it an egregious display of arrogance by 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 to 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 three-day carnage following 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.