Los Angeles: India's Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh has stirred a new controversy by suggesting that the ongoing debate on tolerance in India was a creation of "imaginative" minds of those "who are paid".
"Like a small incident of theft in a church that was depicted as an attack on the church, the same is (the case with) this intolerance debate," the former army chief told reporters on Sunday on the sidelines of the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.
Standing in for External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who returned to New Delhi midway after Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris, V.K. Singh also suggested that the current debate was motivated by the Bihar elections that the BJP-led NDA lost.
"You decide whether this is paid for or not. This particular debate (on intolerance) is no debate. It is the unnecessary creation of very imaginative minds who are being paid a lot of money," said the minister who had once called the media "presstitutes".
"I do not want to comment on how the Indian media works. And I will take you back to all the funny things that are being talked about intolerance," he said.
"When the Delhi elections took place, suddenly we found a spate of articles and a lot of hysteria that was created that churches are being attacked, the Christian community is being isolated etc.," he said.
"Whether it was paid or not paid, I do not know. That's a decision or opinion that you have to make," he said.
"I am just giving you the facts. The day that election was over, all the hoopla was gone.
"The same is (the case with) this intolerance debate. The moment the Bihar elections are over, everything is gone," he said.
"Have these people got any moral authority to even speak anything? So let's not unnecessarily confuse ourselves with what is happening and the lesson is for the Indian media," he said.