The ruling BJP on Tuesday demanded an apology from Congress MP Rahul Gandhi for his comments about the Hindu community, claiming that the entire country was angered by his remarks.

The day also saw Congress and BJP workers clashing at Gujarat Congress headquarters Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan in Ahmedabad to protest against Gandhi’s statement. Further, three persons have approached the police in Ahmedabad, Surat and Gandhinagar, seeking FIRs to be lodged against Gandhi for hurting sentiments of Hindus.

In his maiden speech as the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi triggered a row by taking a swipe at the BJP, saying those who call themselves Hindus are engaged in “violence and hate” round the clock. Addressing the media at state BJP headquarters Shree Kamalam in Gandhinagar, Gujarat BJP general secretary Rajni Patel said the Congress leader had insulted the entire Hindu community by claiming that they are constantly involved in violence.

Maintaining that Hindus spread across the world are tolerant and non-violent, Patel alleged that while Gandhi and his party have not been able to succeed despite their attempts to get votes by appeasement of a particular community, they have resorted to such falsehood. “We condemn the statements (of Rahul Gandhi). Rahul Gandhi must apologize to all the Hindus of the world… Every Hindu will give a reply to Rahul’s statement and BJP is not required to hold protests against it,” he said.

On Gandhi saying that RSS and BJP are not the only representatives of the Hindus, Patel said, “Every citizen of this country who believes this country is his country, and who believes this is his motherland, is a Hindu. So, the sentiments of every citizen are hurt.”

Festive offer

In Ahmedabad, Congress and BJP workers clashed on Tuesday when BJP youth wing members reached Gujarat Congress headquarters to protest against Gandhi’s statement. With both parties blaming each other for the violence, cross FIRs are being lodged, their leaders said.

While police personnel were present at the site since BJP had announced its protest in advance, the confrontation turned into a violent clash with both sides indulging in stone pelting. Several party members, including women, were detained following the clash.

On Monday night, members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal had entered Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan and defaced Gandhi’s posters by pasting stickers and spraying black color as a mark of protest, the VHP said in a statement. While the main premises were locked, protesters tore some party banners and defaced Gandhi’s photos near the main entrance of the building.

When asked if the BJP was involved in the vandalism at the Congress office, Rajni Patel denied the charges.

Amit Chavda, Congress legislative party leader in the state Assembly, termed it as a “pre-planned attack on Congress” and alleged that timely action was not taken by the police. “Everything was pre-planned, the way the Congress office was attacked late at night… no FIR has been lodged in the matter despite a police complaint being filed. In regard to today’s clash too, we had informed the police at 2 pm that BJP workers will reach the party office at 4 pm, so there should be police protection. How can they protest without any approval from the police? They continued to shout for over an hour in the presence of police personnel, who did nothing,” Chavda told The Indian Express. He added that while 30 Congress workers, including around 10 women, were detained, no one has been detained from the BJP.

Following the clash, Congress leaders, including Chavda, met the Ahmedabad Police commissioner to complain against the alleged police inaction. “Their plan was to burn down the Congress office but could not do so due to the presence of our workers. We met the police commissioner and complained that all this happened in front of the police personnel, who waited for one hour to let them (BJP) resort to stone pelting,” Chavda said.

BJP general secretary Ahmedabad Bhushan Bhatt accused the Congress of starting the violence. “If it was a pre-planned attack, then who brought sticks and who threw glass bottles on us? More than 200 people came with sticks from the Congress office. We held a protest, which we went off peacefully…,” Bhatt said, adding that four BJP workers were injured in the clash.

Meanwhile, three complaints were filed in Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Surat seeking registration of FIR against Gandhi. While an application was submitted at Vastrapur police station in Ahmedabad by a person named Brijesh Mathasolia, Surat resident Dharmendra Gami, who claimed to be a member of Bhartiya Gauraksha Manch, submitted an application at Umara police station.

In Gandhinagar, a Gujarat BJP IT cell team member filed a complaint at Infocity police station, seeking “strict appropriate proceedings” against Gandhi for making alleged anti-Hindu remarks. The complaint was filed by Gandhinagar’s Ranchhod Patel, who stated that Gandhi has “hurt 120 crore Hindus’ religious sentiment, I being one of those”. Patel also demanded an apology from Gandhi.

No FIRs have been registered yet in any of the three complaints, station officers of these police stations said.

– With PTI inputs