No comments on religion, BJP advises its spokespersons | Latest News India

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) advised its spokespersons in a series of informal internal instructions to exercise more restraint as it tried to combat the diplomatic crisis in West Asia sparked by a party leader who made controversial remarks about the prophet Mohammed last week. .

Also read | Malaysia ‘condemns’ comments about prophet, calls on Indian envoy

The party asked spokespersons to use measured language, not to criticize any religion, religious figures or symbols and not to violate the ideals of the party by being provoked in televised debates, senior leaders aware of the developments said. Only authorized leaders are allowed to represent the party on the air, she added.

One of the leaders said that some kind of directive was needed.

“In recent months, it has been noted that some members of the party have become increasingly virulent in the media, making uninhibited comments in an effort to get ahead and get noticed. This trend had to be stopped,” this person added on condition of anonymity.

But the informal instructions may not have been given across the organization, as many HT spokespersons have been contacted to deny they were spoken to, even if only informally.

Also read | Argument over comment about Prophet: BJP leader gets police guard

The developments came on a day when Malaysia became the last country to condemn the comments of the now-suspended BJP spokesman, Nupur Sharma, last week. A number of Muslim-majority countries in West Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia have condemned the comment, posing a formidable challenge to the government’s foreign policy in a region that has worked diligently to strengthen ties.

Kuwait, Qatar and Iran on Sunday summoned Indian ambassadors to protest the comments of Sharma, who was removed from the party’s spokesperson and suspended, and Naveen Jindal, who was expelled by the BJP. The State Department said such comments reflected the “views of fringe elements”.

“The suspension, expulsion [of spokespeople]and the public action taken in this regard was also intended to deter other leaders, and to send a message to all leaders to temper their language use,” said the leader quoted above.

The informal briefings also advised spokespersons to monitor and prepare the topic of debate ahead of time, not to be “misled” into making comments on divisive issues and to focus on upholding party work.

Also read | Respect the party’s decision: Nupur Sharma after suspension after Prophet’s comments

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) denounced the comments and a senior official from Omani’s foreign ministry raised the issue to the Indian Ambassador. Indonesia, the Maldives and Libya also condemned the comments. The Foreign Ministry did not respond to statements from the West Asian countries, Indonesia and the GCC, but spokesman Arindam Bagchi rejected criticism from Pakistan and OIC.

Malaysia said on Tuesday it “unconditionally condemns the derogatory comments” and added that it had conveyed its “total rejection” to India’s envoy. “Malaysia calls on India to cooperate in ending Islamophobia and to cease all provocative actions in the interests of peace and stability,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The controversy poses a serious foreign policy challenge for the country as most of India’s energy needs are met by oil and gas from West Asian countries, notably Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The government has worked diligently in recent years to strengthen relations with the region, which is described as India’s expanded neighborhood, and ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE have improved dramatically. Western Asia was also home to some nine million expatriates before the Covid-19 crisis, and many Indians who returned home have returned as pandemic-related restrictions were eased.

The government has repeatedly said that it gives the “highest respect to all religions”, and that the “offensive tweets and comments that denigrate a religious personality have been made by certain individuals”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said the comments “do not in any way reflect the views of the Government of India” and “strong measures” had been taken against the individuals by relevant authorities.

(with Reuters entries)

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