Venkaiah Naidu dismissed the incidents of cow vigilantism and mob lynching highlighted by outgoing Vice-President Hamid Ansari as 'stray' occurrences. Photograph: (Zee News Network)
Incoming Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today (August 10) rejected as "political propaganda" the view that there is a sense of insecurity among minorities in the country, remarks that are being viewed as a rejoinder to outgoing Vice-President Hamid Ansari.
The BJP criticised the comments as "petty" and were not expected from someone in his position.
In his last interview before he demits office, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari has pointed out that Muslims in the country are experiencing a "feeling of unease."
A Muslim himself, Ansari said Muslims were feeling insecure in an atmosphere of rising intolerance reflected in the incidents of mob lynching and cow vigilantism.
Venkaiah Naidu dismissed the incidents as "stray" occurrences in a country as huge as India.
"Some people are saying minorities are insecure. It is a political propaganda. Compared to the entire world, minorities are more safe and secure in India and they get their due," Venkaiah Naidu told PTI.
He also disagreed with the view that there is growing intolerance, saying Indian society was tolerant which was why democracy was so successful.
The former BJP president said that singling out one community would create a divide in the nation and draw adverse reaction from other communities.
"If you single out one community, other communities will take it otherwise. That is why we say all are equal.
"Appeasement for none justice for all," Venkaiah Naidu, 68, said.
He said minorities had historically attained "prominent positions including constitutional responsibilities because there is no discrimination, and also on account of their merit".
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya accused the outgoing vice president of looking for "political shelter" after retirement.
Hamid Ansari's second five-year term as the vice-president ends today.
"A sense of insecurity is creeping in as a result of the dominant mood created by some and the resultant intolerance and vigilantism," Hamid Ansari said in an interview to Rajya Sabha TV.
The vice president said mob lynching and the alleged killings were because of a "breakdown of Indian values, breakdown of the ability of the authorities at different levels in different places to be able to enforce what should be normal law enforcing work and over all the very fact that Indianness of any citizen being questioned is a disturbing thought.
Asked why he thought Indian values were breaking down, Ansari answered, "Because we are a plural society that for centuries, not for 70 years, has lived in a certain ambience of acceptance."
"I am an Indian and that is it," he said.
Asked if he shared his concerns with the prime minister, Ansari said that he had.
"What passes between the Vice-President and the Prime Minister in the nature of things must remain in the domain of privileged conversation," he said.
On the issue of triple talaq, Ansari said the practice is a social aberration, and not a religious requirement.
The constitutionality of triple talaq - prevalent among Muslims in the country - is being examined by a five-member constitution bench constituted by the Supreme Court of India. The top colurt has reserved its verdict in the case.
Hamid Ansari said the courts do not have to step in as the reform has to come from within the community.
Asked about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Ansari said the issue was a political one and had to be addressed politically.
At an event in Bengaluru on Sunday, Hamid Ansari made an indirect reference to the BJP when he said that the "version of nationalism" that places cultural commitments at its core "promotes intolerance" and arrogant patriotism.