Nirmala Sitharaman attacks Obama: 'Bombed 6 Muslim-majority countries'
Barak Obama has touched a raw nerve with the BJP-led Narendra Modi government after the former US President spoke about how the US Administration should raise the concern about discrimination against Muslim minority in India.
In a televised interview with CNN hours before a joint statement by President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Obama had suggested that if he had the opportunity to converse with Modi, he would have discussed the rights of ethnic minorities in India.
Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday (June 25) slammed Obama for his remarks on protection of Muslims in India and said that it was Obama who bombed six Muslim countries during his eight-year rule in the US.
“I was shocked. When PM Modi was campaigning in the US, and by campaigning I mean speaking about India, a former President of the US is speaking about Indian Muslims,” Sitharaman said at a press conference in Delhi.
The finance minister said that Obama’s comments were not trustworthy as he bombed six Muslim countries. “We want friendship with the US, but there too we get remarks about religious freedom in India. A former President under whose rule six Muslim-majority countries were bombed with more than 26,000 bombs – how will people trust his allegations?” she asked.
Sitharaman also lashed out at the Congress and other opposition leaders who had surmised that Prime Minister might get an earful from President Biden, who was Obama’s deputy in the White House for eight years.
Taking to Twitter, Congress MP Manish Tewari had said that Obama’s comments were not a coincidence made at a time when Prime Minster Modi was on a state visit to the US. He went on to suggest that since Biden and Obama shared a close bonding, he must have made those remarks on Biden’s behalf.
“I would be surprised if Former President Barack Obama’s comments were just coincidental. Joe Biden was Barack Obama’s Vice President for eight long years. Barack Obama continues to be his biggest supporter. It is Tweedlum & Tweedlee. Get someone equally influential to say it,” Tewari said in a tweet.
She accused the Congress and other parties of raising “non-issues” without “data in hand”. “The Honourable Prime Minister himself, in the press conference in the US, has said how his government works on the ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ principle and doesn’t discriminate against any community. But the fact remains that when people join in this debate and highlight issues which are non-issues in a way.” Sitharaman said.
Referring to the situation in strife-torn Manipur, for which Modi has come under attack from the Opposition, Sitharaman said, “There are issues to be raised, which are being raised at the state level about law and order. There are people taking care of it. To just allege without basic data in hand just tells us that these are organised campaigns.”
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had on June 23 brought in Obama’s Muslim lineage while targeting the former US President in a tweet.
“There are many Hussain Obama in India itself. We should prioritize taking care of them before considering going to Washington. The Assam police will act according to our own priorities,” Sarma said in his tweet.