Condemning Amit Shah for dubbing Mahatma Gandhi a 'chatur baniya', the Maharashtra unit Congress president Ashok Chavan today equated the BJP chief to the Pakistani leaders who used to criticise the Father of Nation.
Demanding an unconditional apology from Shah, Chavan said he has insulted all freedom fighters who have sacrificed themselves for the cause of the country.
Addressing a gathering in Raipur yesterday, Shah said Gandhi was a "chatur baniya", a reference to his mercantile caste, who had rightly advised dissolution of the Congress after Independence. He had also termed the Congress a sort of "special purpose vehicle" to secure freedom and as the party lacking any ideology or principles.
"Amit Shah has spoken the language of Pakistani leaders who used to constantly criticise Mahatma Gandhi. By using such language for the Mahatma, he has insulted all freedom fighters who have given their lives for the cause of freedom," Chavan told reporters here.
Seeking an unconditional apology, the Congress leader said Shah has insulted entire country by his remarks.
"Pakistani leaders used to criticise Mahatma Gandhi the way Shah has done. Today, the BJP is speaking Pakistan's language. By speaking about the caste of Mahatma, the BJP has laid bare its true face of caste politics," he said.
Accusing the BJP of spreading hatred among people, the former chief minister said the BJP has failed to understand the idea of vibrant India.
Mamata slams Shah
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee also condemned Shah for making the disparaging remark, saying: "He should withdraw his comment and apologise for it. It is a deliberate act. It is unfortunate, uncalled for and unethical," she told reporters here.
"Gandhiji is the father of the nation and he is an icon of the world. No one should think that he can say anything only because he is in power," she said.
Mahatma's grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi said he would have chuckled at the "chatur baniya" description also, but for its "utter tastelessness" and the hidden mischief in it.
Historian Ramachandra Guha said the remark made by Amit Shah was "crude" and "unworthy" of the president of BJP, the country's ruling party.
When contacted, Guha, the author of 'India After Gandhi', strongly reacted to the comment made by Shah at an event in Raipur yesterday.
"The comment was crude and ill-informed, unworthy of the president of India's ruling party," Guha said.