Talks between India and Pakistan can move forward only if Prime Minister Narendra Modi is removed from his post, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has told a Pakistani television channel.
"First, it is required to remove Modi, otherwise talks will not move forward. We'll have to wait for four years. These people are very optimistic about Modi, they think that talks will move forward with Modi's presence. But I don't think so," Aiyar told Dunya TV.
After last week's Paris terror attacks, Aiyar had said "anti-Islam phobia that is being carried out in the western countries should be stopped immediately".
On his remarks about prime minister, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla said: "Perhaps Mani Shankar Aiyar forgot that Modi ji was elected by the people. It is a reprehensible comment and we condemn it."
On Congress distancing from Aiyar, Heptulla said: "This is a good strategy of the Congress. First, you make them pass a statement, and then distance from it. How dare he make such statement on a Pakistani television? I know what goes on in Congress party. When they say they are distancing from the remark, I don't believe it."
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said: "Some people are behaving and conducting themselves as propagandists for ISIS (Islamic State) and Taliban. We need to watch out for fringe elements in India."
Citing example of Samajwadi Party, which quickly distanced itself from its leader Azam Khan's controversial comments on the Paris attack, Lekhi asked why the Congress failed to condemn Aiyar's remarks?
"At a time when the entire world stood up to condemn the Paris attack, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid were speaking ill of our prime minister on foreign land. When Azam Khan remarked on Paris attacks, the SP was sensible to criticise what he said. But the Congress has not condemned him yet," Lekhi said.
Khurshid, a former external affairs minister, praised Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently and criticized Prime Minister Modi during his invitation lecture at the Jinnah Institute in Islamabad last week.
"Modi is not used to talking to people who disagree with him," Khurshid had said.
Speaking about Sharif attending Modi's swearing-in ceremony in India, Khurshid said, "If you look back at the first face-to-face between our PMs, your PM took a brave, farsighted decision. If there has been a leader of democratic Pakistan who wanted peace with India, it is (Sharif, who) was the first non-military (Pakistani) leader to try for peace."
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