Lucknow: The controversy over a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah at the Students’ Union Office of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) seems to have divided the BJP, with Etah MP Harnath Singh demanding the ouster of UP Minister Swami Prasad Maurya for praising Pakistan’s founding father.
Reacting to Aligarh BJP MP Satish Gautam’s demand to take down the portrait, Maurya had called Jinnah a ‘mahapurush’ or great man. “If people raise fingers on ‘mahapurush’ (great men) who have contributed in nation-building, then it’s a matter of shame. Even Jinnah contributed towards nation-building before Partition,” Maurya had said.
Taking to Twitter, party colleague and Etah lawmaker Harnath Singh demanded an apology from Maurya, a minister in the Yogi Adityanath cabinet.
देश के तीन टुकड़े करने बाले जघन्य अपराधी मु0 अली जिन्ना को को महापुरुष कहने बाले सरकार के मंत्री #स्वामी_प्रसाद_मोर्य या तो अपना बयान बापिस लें माफी मांगे अन्यथा तत्काल पार्टी से बाहर निकालें@AmitShah@narendramodi@myogiadityanath @DrMNPandeyMP @sunilbansalbjp pic.twitter.com/ONNpCjzO3o— Harnath singh Yadav (@HarnathY) May 2, 2018
Speaking to the media later, Singh said, “The elements at Aligarh Muslim University who have put up the portrait of Mohammad Ali Jinnah should be crushed. Meanwhile, a UP government minister is calling Jinnah ‘mahapurush’. I feel he has lost interest in the party. I have tweeted this matter to PM Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP state president Mahendra Nath Pandey and senior BJP leader Sunil Bansal. I have demanded that either Swami Prasad Maurya apologise or be shown the way out of the party.”
“I think he is not interested in the BJP anymore. I would like to remind him of the time he ran from pillar to post for a BJP ticket to fight Assembly elections. After being elected as an MLA and then becoming a minister, such kind of statements cannot be justified at any cost,” Singh said.
“Those who are involved in putting up Jinnah’s portrait should be arrested immediately and sent to jail. Also, such people should be charged with sedition,” he added.
AMU Students’ Union, however, claims that Jinnah, like many other pre-Partition leaders, were conferred honorary membership of the university and as such their portraits have been installed in the campus since 1920. “Jinnah’s portrait was installed when he was conferred life membership (of the Students’ Union) in 1938. AMU has many things from the pre-Partition era like the Victoria Gate. Should that be brought down as well?” asked former AMU Students’ Union president Faizul Hasan.
AMU administration also maintains that AMU Students' Union is an autonomous body. “It is a tradition since 1920 to honour people of eminence with life membership. AMU first conferred it on Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 and on Jinnah in 1938. It is part of history… it does not mean we are part of them or their politics. CV Raman and VV Giri were also honoured with the same,” AMU Public Relations Officer (PRO) Omar Peerzada told News18.