‘No Need to Politicise Religion’: Under Fire Over Ram Mandir Dig, Why Sam Pitroda is Cong’s Achilles’ Heel

    ‘No Need to Politicise Religion’: Under Fire Over Ram Mandir Dig, Why Sam Pitroda is Cong’s Achilles’ Heel

    It’s with a sense of concern that Sam Pitroda, chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, is looking at his country of origin, India.

    Speaking exclusively to News18, Pitroda, who has a penchant for being in the news and stoking controversy, has stirred another one — This time on the Ram Mandir issue.

    As the countdown begins for the ‘Sthapana Pooja’ on January 22, the temple is now mired in politics.

    CPIM and Mamata Banerjee have already indicated that they will skip the ceremony. The Congress has kept the guessing game on but there are many who think that since it looks like a BJP event, one can skip it. However, in election season, Ram Mandir is an emotive issue, and missing it could make things tough for the Grand Old Party.

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    Sam Pitroda doesn’t think so though. “Today, the nation needs to worry about other things such as inflation, unemployment, and the environment of Delhi. Religion is a personal thing, it’s with us. There is no need to politicise it. The government’s job is to bring development to everyone equally and respect everyone. They must not divide that these are Hindus and these are Muslims. I would have prioritised development first, then the Ram Mandir.”

    Pitroda’s comments have stoked a controversy and also made the Congress squirm. He cannot be dismissed as someone who was brought in by Rajiv Gandhi for his technical and engineering expertise and was part of the knowledge commission in 2006 when Dr Manmohan Singh was the prime minister. Rahul Gandhi has publicly called Pitroda his mentor and as chairman of Indian Overseas Congress, he has organised many of Gandhi’s interactions abroad.

    To the counter that Congress was accused of appeasing minorities and itself organised ‘iftars’, Pitroda said: “Iftar and Diwali are social occasions. They cannot be seen as religious events.”


    This is not the first time Pitroda has landed Congress in a tight spot. When asked about the 1984 riots during a visit to Punjab, he had said “hua toh hua” (whatever happened has happened). This immediately led to outrage from the BJP, even forcing Rahul Gandhi to publicly reprimand him and call his comments ridiculous.

    It didn’t stop there. On the Balakot airstrikes, Pitroda asked “did it really happen”, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strike back and say the nation would never forgive the Congress for this comment.

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    Pitroda, however, remains brazen. When asked about him being Congress’ controversy child, he told News18 that his comment was taken out of context. “I stand by what I said. I mean it. The wrong interpretation was given. I know what Rahul Gandhi said but it was distorted.”

    Far away from controversies, Pitroda now has a mission — attacking EVMs. As many in the Congress, like Digvijaya Singh, have questioned EVMs post Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh results, Pitroda too wants the Election Commission to take cognizance. “I am quoting a citizen report that also raises questions over VVPATs. This must be checked. I am not connecting it with recent results. But this is my mission.”

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