Central Minister, Mrs. Maneka Gandhi's remark at an election meeting in Sultanpur from where she is contesting, telling the Muslims there to vote for her or else she may not be inclined to be responsive to their requests, has created a storm. 'I have already won this election, now it is for you to decide,' the BJP leader had told a predominantly Muslim audience there. .
Later in the day, she clarified that her words had been twisted. 'I love Muslims and I had myself called a meeting of the BJP's minority cell. I only meant to say that I am winning the elections and their participation would be like 'daal pe chaunka'."
A three-minute clip of her speech in Sultanpur's Turabkhani area has predictably gone viral.
'This is important. I am winning. I am winning because of the love and support of people. But if my victory is without Muslims, I won't feel that good. Dil khatta ho jayega (Things will become sour). Then when a Muslim comes to me for work, I think let it be, how does it matter. It's all give and take, isn't it? We aren't all sons of Mahatma Gandhi, are we? (laughter). It's not that we keep on giving and then losing in the election. This victory will happen with or without you.'
A little later, she clarified, 'I have already won the elections, but you will need me. This is your chance to lay the foundation. When the election comes and this booth throws up 100 votes or 50 votes, and then you come to me for work we will see...I don't see any divide, I see only pain, sadness and love. So it is up to you...'
Attacked over her comments, Mrs. Maneka Gandhi later accused the media of twisting her comments. 'I love Muslims... I only meant to say that I am winning the elections and their participation would be like 'daal pe chaunka' (seasoning).'
The MP from Pilibhit, began her campaign from the Sultanpur seat about 10 days ago. The seat is now held by her son Varun Gandhi. But this election, Varun has shifted back to Pilibhit, a seat he won in 2009. Mrs. Maneka Gandhi has won the Pilibhit seat six times.
Last week, Mrs. Maneka Gandhi waded into controversy when she described BSP supremo, Ms. Mayawati as a 'merchant of tickets' and accused her of taking Rs. 15-20 crore from those who wanted to be chosen as her party's candidates.