Chandigarh: As a row erupted over his reported comments that Muslims can live in the country but will have to give up eating beef, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Friday said his words have been distorted but he was ready to express regret if he has hurt the sentiments of people.
Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar. Pic/ANI
The reported remarks on beef triggered an outrage with the Congress calling it a sad day for Indian democracy and slamming him for his 'unconstitutional' remarks. However, the BJP leader said his words have been twisted. "My words have been distorted. I never made such a statement. But if the sentiments of anyone have been hurt with my words, I am ready to express my regret," Khattar said.
The Chief Minister's Advisor Jawahar Yadav said that Khattar never made such a statement.
"The Chief Minister has himself denied that he made such a statement. He did not say what has been published by a newspaper. The CM has said cow is a subject of faith for crores of people in the country.
"Khattar had given an example of his recent visit to Mewat where Gau Shalas are being run by Muslims and where some people expressed views that Muslims should avoid eating beef," he said.
In an interview published by a newspaper, the Haryana Chief Minister had said "Muslims can continue to live in this country, but they will have to give up eating beef because cow is an article of faith here".
Coming close on the heels of controversial statements made by a few BJP leaders over the lynching of a Muslim by villagers in Dadri over rumours that he had eaten and stored beef, Khattar's reported comments invited a backlash from the opposition parties.
"Sad day for India's democracy! CM Khattarji will now decide qualifications for Indian citizenship. Is this new model of governance Modiji?" Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked, taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav attacked BJP, saying its leaders keep taunting Muslims and ask them to go to Pakistan but what will they do with people in northeast where beef is eaten?
"They will have to understand that India is not Europe or China. It is a diverse country," he said.
Another Congress leader Rashid Alvi said Khattar's comments were unconstitutional and he had no right to continue as the chief minister.