Just days after senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram said that it was "wrong" of the erstwhile Rajiv Gandhi government to ban Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses, the party has distanced itself from the former's comments, The Times of India reported.
Chidambaram was the Minister of State for Home Affairs in the Rajiv Gandhi government from 1986-89, and the book was banned in 1988.
"'Satanic Verses' was never banned in India. The import of the book was banned. Considering the prevailing conditions and the societal atmosphere at that point of time, Penguin India, on the advice from its consulting editor Khushwant Singh, took a decision to neither print nor publish the book in India.That sort of summarises the 28-year-old history of the event," Party spokesman Randeep Surjewala told TOI.
He further added, "To say that the decision to impose the ban was right or wrong in hindsight would be inappropriate on the part of Congress. Chidambaram, in his wisdom as a senior Congress leader and witness to politics, has made a comment and that is how it should be viewed," he said.
"I have no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdieâ€™s book was wrong," Chidambaram had said on Saturday at the Times LitFest in the Capital.
To which Rushdie had responded saying,
This admission just took 27 years. How many more before the "mistake" is corrected? https://t.co/qz7t1InXzVâ€” Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) November 28, 2015
The BJP too was quick to comment on the issue stating that the Congress needed to be "a little tolerant".
"The question arises that after close to nearly three decades why was there a need to do so (to admit the mistake). If it is reflective of Congress' thinking, then one needs to see it in a larger perspective and everyone, which includes Congress particularly, needs to be a little tolerant," TOI quoted BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli as saying.