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Opposition parties slam Haryana CM Khattar for statement on Muslims and beef

Chandigarh: Hours after Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar stirred a controversy by reportedly telling a newspaper that ‘Muslims can live in this country but they will have to give up eating beef because the cow is an article of faith here’, the Haryana government has moved into the damage control mode. The chief minister’s office has denied the controversial statement, saying it was `misrepresented’.

Jawahar Yadav, officer on special duty to the chief minister, issued a clarification to this effect. He was quoted by a news agency saying, “Our CM didn’t say anything like this, all he said was we should respect everyone… The newspaper which has posted this news piece has tried to put words in the Haryana CM’s mouth.”

However, this might have come a bit late in the day. Political rivals have already jumped in to slam Khattar. “This is an irresponsible statement from a person holding a responsible post,” Haryana Congress spokesman Rann Singh Mann toldFirstpost. “BJP leaders are making these comments continuously to damage the secular ethos of the country and create bad blood among citizens. Will the BJP now issue a diet chart in the country to tell people what to eat and what not to?’’ he added.

Abhey Chautala, leader of the Indian National Lok Dal, the main Opposition party in Haryana, criticised the controversial statement saying: “This is not the statement of the Haryana chief minister. It is the agenda of the RSS that he is mouthing. The RSS and the BJP are hell bent on creating an atmosphere of rift and tension among communities so that they can reap a rich political harvest. “Jhagda, fasaadkaraana inka kaam hai. Yeh kya desh ke thekedar hainKyon desh ka mahoul kharab kar rahe hain? (Creating social rift and tension is their intention. Are they the sole guardian of the nation? Why are they destroying the atmosphere of peace and brotherhood in the country?)’’.

Chautala lambasted the BJP government on its poor governance in Haryana. “Ask the BJP chief minister what development works has he taken for the state in the last one year of power? Why did the BJP not implement its election manifesto?”

Haryana Congress president Dr Ashok Tanwar said such statements must be condemned in the strongest possible manner. “Aspersion of such level by the chief minister of the state does not behove him. He should be concerned with the welfare of all the people in the state and not any particular caste, class or section of society. He should pay attention to the governance instead of making such loose statements. He should understand that he is holding a constitutional post,’’ he added.

AAP parliamentarian from Patiala in Punjab, Dharamvir Gandhi said: “Such statements are an infringement on the Fundamental Rights of the people of this country. It is against plurality. People of this country have every right to what they eat or drink or the kind of life they want to lead. Who is the government to tell them what to do or not to do?” He demanded that Khattar take back his statement.

When contacted, former Congress Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda said he had heard of the controversial statement by Khattar, but had not read it as yet. Hooda, who is known for respecting cows (he used to keep many cows in his official residence), said he will get back only after he becomes full aware of the exact facts.

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