'Linking Lankesh's murder to BJP unfortunate, baseless'
New Delhi: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday termed as "irresponsible, baseless and false" the allegations linking the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh to the BJP or people following its ideology.
Slamming the statements of Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul, he said levelling "untrue" allegations against the BJP and the Prime Minister is injustice to his party and detrimental to democracy.
"The present government, the BJP or any of its organisations have no connection with the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh," the Road Transport, Highways, Shipping and Water Resources Minister told reporters.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being accused of remaining silent despite people knowing that he is on a foreign visit.
"The reaction on this incident by the president of a political party is very irresponsible, baseless and false," Gadkari said without naming the Congress chief who has said that the killing is a chilling reminder that "intolerance and bigotry are raising their ugly head in our society".
Gadkari said he condemned the incident but the manner in which the ruling party is being portrayed by some political parties was unfortunate and objectionable.
"If there is a murder and somebody is accused of it, unless and until there is any evidence, that person cannot be pronounced guilty. Some people have allergy with Bhartiya Janata Party.
"They are unable to digest the good work by the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister. They are levelling such false and baseless allegations," the former BJP president said.
He said such "irresponsible and false" allegations "will cause harm to democracy" and any such projection that the BJP is linked to it is injustice to the party.
At the same time, he said the Prime Minister was on a foreign visit and cannot be expected to issue reaction on everything. Gadkari hit out at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who had alleged that anybody who spoke against the ideology of the BJP and the RSS, was pressured, beaten and even killed.
Gandhi also described Modi as a "skilled Hindutva politician" whose comments had one meaning for his supporters and another for the rest of the world.
Taking exception to the remarks, Gadkari, "This is very unfortunate. The country's prime minister is not of one party and is the nation's honour. For a responsible leader of a political party, levelling such baseless and untrue allegation is unfortunate. It is not good for Indian democracy."
Gadkari, a former BJP president, said Modi was presently abroad to further the country's interests and it was unfortunate that such allegations were being levelled against him.
Condemning the journalist's murder, Sonia Gandhi said the party stood as one with the rationalists, thinkers, journalists and the media fraternity.
"The series of killings of rationalists, free thinkers and journalists in the country has created an atmosphere that dissent, ideological differences and divergence of views can endanger our lives. This cannot be and should not be tolerated," the Congress chief said in a statement.
"It is an extremely sad moment for our democracy and a chilling reminder of the fact that intolerance and bigotry is raising its ugly head in our society," she said.
The Kannada journalist-activist, known for her left- leaning outlook and forthright views on Hindutva politics, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at her residence last night.