When BJP MP from the Mumbai North constituency Gopal Shetty was caught with his foot in his mouth, after calling Christians ‘angrez’ who never participated in the Freedom Struggle and sided with the British, a national media uproar took the wind out of Shetty’s sails.
However fueled by his ego and arrogance, Shetty did not apologize to the Christian community claiming that ‘it was his personal opinion or viewpoint and the role of Christians was anyway debatable’ and he was ready to resign as his ‘freedom of expression was more important to him, than any post or position in the party’.
Shetty’s offer to resign was the oldest trick in the politicians’ guidebook. The media diverted its attention from the core issue to Shetty’s resignation. However, Shetty did just the opposite. Besides, speaking to news agency ANI and one or two others, after Shetty’s resignation news went viral, he sat tight and refused to take further calls from the media.
He had not put in his papers till late in the night on Friday, with sources saying that the party leadership has asked him to reconsider his decision. Shetty had no intention to resign at all. He only diverted media glare from the main issue which was insulting the Christian community.
MP Gopal Shetty, who is facing flak for raising questions about participation of the Christian community in India’s freedom struggle, on Friday offered to tender his resignation to state party president Raosaheb Danve. But he had not put in his papers till late in the night, reports Mumbai Mirror.
Hours after Mirror reported that the senior BJP leader has embarrassed his party by claiming that Indian Christians had no role to play in the freedom movement, Shetty told reporters, “My statement was taken out of context. If I don’t have the freedom to express my thoughts, then I don’t want to put my party in an embarrassing situation. Therefore, I have offered to resign.”
Shetty had made the statement while addressing a gathering during the Eid-E-Milad organised by the Shia Kabrastan Committee at Malvani in Malad on Sunday. A video of his speech has since gone viral.
On Friday, the Congress, AAP and other political parties, social activists and Christian organisations demanded an unconditional apology from the MP.
AAP’s Maharashtra unit even filed a complaint against Shetty with the state minority commission. Abrham Mathai, president of Indian Christian Voice and former vice-chairman of minority commission, also took umbrage at Shetty for failing to appreciate the Indian Christians’ role during the freedom struggle, reports Mumbai Mirror.
“During the freedom struggle, despite their small population, Indian Christians rose to the occasion to demand ‘swaraj’ for our country. Shetty is totally ignorant of history and seems to be deliberately distorting proven historical facts to suit his agenda,” Mathai said.
In a terse response to Shetty’s remarks, Shaila Baptista, great grandniece of Joseph Kaka Baptista, who was a close associate of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, told Mirror that politicians should be made accountable for making such frivolous statements.
“Over the past few years, an atmosphere of animosity and hatred is being created against minorities. We feel we are unwanted in our own country,” said Shaila, who lives with her family in Navi Mumbai.
Shetty issued another statement on Saturday to defend himself and his statements: