Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma’s statement that the former President, APJ Abdul Kalam was a nationalist despite being a Muslim has triggered a huge controversy.
Sharma, while speaking to India Today TV, said that President A P J Abdul Kalam as a ‘great man’ who was a ‘nationalist’ and a ‘humanist’ ‘despite being a Muslim.’
He made these remarks while justifying the Narendra Modi’s government to change Aurangzeb Road to APJ Abdul Kalam Road.
He said, “Mein samajhta hoon ki Aurangzeb koi adarsh nahin the. Prernasrot hi prerak ho sakta hai. Aurangzeb Road ka bhi naam badal kar ek aise mahapurush ke naam par kiya hai jo Musalmaan hote hue bhi itna bada rashtravadi aur manavtavadi insaan tha, APJ Abdul Kalam, unke naam par kiya gaya hai (I don’t think Aurangzeb was an ideal person. Only a source of inspiration can be inspirational. Aurangzeb Road has been named after such a great man who, despite being a Muslim, was a nationalist and a humanist, A P J Abdul Kalam. The road has been named after him).”
His comments, which evoked sharp criticithat sm on social media and elsewhere, came hours after he had talked about cleansing Indian culture of western influence.
While addressing the group of culture ministers from the BJP-ruled states, Sharma had reportedly said, ” We will cleanse every area of public discourse that has been westernised and where Indian culture and civilisation needs to be restored, be it history we read, our cultural heritage or our institutions that have been polluted over years.”
Earlier this, Sharma was in news for his comments on making the teachings of Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharat in schools mandatory.
Sharma, later tried to clarify he had only meant that the former President was a ‘nationalist Muslim.’