Moradabad: BJP on Sunday pulled out of event to felicitate party leaders and workers, who were arrested following clashes and communal tension in the district in July.
The party said that the decision was taken as its state leaders were busy campaigning in poll-bound Haryana and Maharashtra, but the Samajwadi Party claimed that it was due to "political pressure" that BJP had taken a "U-turn".
BJP had drawn severe flak when it had felicitated MLAs Suresh Rana and Sangeet Som, who had been accused of involvement the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, in November last year.
BJP's district unit chief Girish Tyagi today said that it was not a party function but an event organised by the Arya Samaj in Amroha.
"The BJP does not want to take up the issue.... So the BJP has withdrawn its participation as directed by our state chief. Maximum people from the BJP were invited so people interpreted as being sponsored by the party," he said.
The Congress took a swipe at BJP saying it has taken the decision out of "helplessness".
"Until now the BJP was supporting the felicitation ceremony. Just because it has created a lot of controversy and repeatedly Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been saying that BJP won't do any such this, BJP was finding it difficult to give answers. Due to this pressure this decision was taken.
"But the important thing is that BJP was doing it in the first place," Congress leader Akhilesh Pratap Singh said.
Samajwadi Party's Gaurav Bhatia claimed BJP had to change its decision due "pressure that Samajwadi Party has been able to exert on them.
"It is the right decision but it is not that the BJp has had a change of heart.... BJP should introspect and such things should not be raised in the first place rather than taking U-turn later," he said.
On July 4, clashes had erupted between BJP workers and police in Kanth over a mahapanchayat called by the party to protest against the removal of a loudspeaker from a temple.
Of those arrested, 63 were released on bail on September 26.