MUMBAI: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam had on Wednesday triggered a controversy after he called Prime Minister Narendra Modi "illiterate". The Bharatiya Janata Party strongly objected to his choice of words but in his defence, Nirupam said that the prime minister is no god that he cannot be questioned.
"It is a democracy and PM isn't God in a democracy. People speak of him while maintaining decorum. The words I used aren't undignified," he said in his defence.
Nirupam made the remark against Modi after the Maharashtra government said that a short film on the Prime Minister's life will be screened at schools in Maharashtra. ''The decision to screen the film forcibly is wrong. Children should be kept away from politics. What will college and school students gain by knowing about an illiterate and unsophisticated person like Modi,'' Nirupam had said on Wednesday. He added that children and people do not know how many degrees the prime minister holds.
Defending himself, he questioned why the Delhi University was unwilling to give details of the PM's education. "If children ask about educational qualification of the PM, what will you tell them? People don't know his qualification. What are the forces which pressurise Delhi University not to release his degree, even when it's claimed he studied there," he asked.
After his remarks, the BJP hit out at Nirupam. Lashing out at him, BJP Maharashtra unit spokesperson Shaina NC called Nirupam 'mentally deranged'. "Yet another abnoxious comment by a mentally deranged @sanjaynirupam . May be he forgets that @narendramodi is elected by 125 cr Indians who aren't "unpad or gavar".@INCIndia is devoid of ideology and relevant questions. Sure citizens will give a befitting reply in 2019 (sic)," Shaina NC tweeted.
Anil Shirole, a BJP MP from Maharashtra tweeted, "PM is not a representative of one party, he is the Prime Minister of the Country and it's people. @sanjaynirupam by insulting our PM you have insulted and disrespected the office, the country and the constitution drafted by Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar ji (sic)."
The Zilla Parishad (ZP) schools in Maharashtra have been asked to screen a short film on Modi next week, a directive which has drawn criticism from Opposition. A government official said that schools were asked to screen the short film "Chalo Jeete Hai" on September 18 as it has a "social message" and would inspire students.
The 32-minute film -- "Chalo Jeete Hai" -- directed by Mangesh Hadawale and presented by Aanand L Rai and Mahaveer Jain, is based on the early life of Modi.
Opposition Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have slammed the BJP-led dispensation over the decision.