The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday held nationwide protests against Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s “uncivilised remarks” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Across the country, BJP workers took to the streets and burnt effigies of Bhutto, and demanded an apology from Islamabad.
India on Friday hit out at Bhutto for his remarks against PM Modi — made in response to external affairs minister S Jaishankar’s comment at the UN headquarters that Pakistan was the “epicentre of terrorism”, and that it was the country that sheltered global terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. The Pakistan foreign minister’s remark triggered widespread outrage with the BJP terming it “highly derogatory, defamatory and full of cowardice”.
In Uttar Pradesh, BJP workers gathered at Lucknow’s Atal Chowk and started marching shouting slogans against Bhutto. Party workers also carried effigies of Bhutto to burn them at the protest site.
“Thousands of BJP workers marched from the Uttar Pradesh BJP office to the Atal Chowk (in Hazratganj), and raised slogans against Bhutto. The party workers, under the leadership of state BJP chief Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, also burnt an effigy of the Pakistani foreign minister,” party spokesperson Hero Bajpai told news agency PTI.
Taking a jibe at Bhutto, he said, “Bilawal Bhutto is not a ‘videsh mantri’ (foreign minister), he is a ‘vidwesh mantri’ (hostility minister).”
The protests began in Maharashtra’s Mumbai and Pune simultaneously on Saturday morning with hundreds of BJP workers and leaders gathering at major junctions with placards in their hands and protesting over Pakistan’s foreign minister’s derogatory remark against PM Modi. They also burnt the effigies of Pakistan and its foreign minister while shouting slogans against them.
“The party is holding a nationwide protest against the derogatory remarks made by Bilawal against PM Modiji. We strongly condemn his remarks,” BJP state president Chandrashekhar Bawankule said in Pune.
Similarly, in Mumbai, hundreds of BJP workers and leaders gathered at various places and held demonstrations. They even played songs criticizing the Pakistan government and its foreign minister.
In Gujarat, the protests were held in Rajkot, Vadodara, Gandhinagar, Botad, Mahisagar, Junagadh and many other places.
A delegation, led by state BJP’s Yuva Morcha president Prashant Korat, submitted a memorandum criticising Pakistan and the minister to Governor Acharya Devvrat at Raj Bhavan. “What Bhutto said was an insult to the entire country and its countrymen, not just PM Modi. BJP workers, as well as citizens, have joined a state-wide protest against Bhutto’s remarks,” Korat told reporters.
BJP’s Jammu & Kashmir unit, too, staged a protest against Bhutto in Srinagar. “This march is part of the country-wide protests by BJP against Bhutto’s shameless comments against our beloved prime minister. This protest is against Pakistan which is a terror state,” party’s Kashmir media in charge, Manzoor Ahmad, said.
The BJP youth wing held a protest at Karnataka and demanded an apology from Bhutto. They also raised slogans against state Congress leaders DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah calling them ‘DK Yesukumar’ and ‘Siddaramullah Khan’. The youth wing will also submit a memorandum to the Governor after the protest demanding immediate action against the Pakistan minister for his remark.
In Telangana, BJP MP and party state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar led the protest at Babu Jagjeevan Ram Statue, in Basheer Bagh. A protest was held in Odisha’s Bhubhaneswar too, against Bhutto’s remark.
A delegation of the BJP’s Goa unit also submitted memorandum against Bhutto to Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai.
With agency inputs