Maneka Gandhi says she respects minorities

New Delhi: Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, who is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lok Sabha election candidate from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh, has defended her comments during a rally which led to the Election Commission of India banning her for 48 hours from campaigning.

Speaking to Zee News,┬áManeka Gandhi called the entire controversy unnecessary. “I said whatever was in my heart.”

“I respect the minorities. My statement was presented in the wrong way. I never make provocative speeches. My statement was not provocative. I have worked for the minorities in Pilibhit and I carried forward the same message at Sultanpur. This controversy was unnecessary. I had asked the minorities to support us in this election, else my heart will break. As per the Election Commission, my statement is not right but I said what I felt from heart,” said the BJP veteran.

Maneka was banned from campaigning for 48 hours after her video asking Muslims to vote for her as they will need her once the Lok Sabha election is over surfaced online. “We are not Mahatma Gandhi’s children that we keep giving and not get anything in return,” she said in Sultanpur’s Muslim-dominated Turabkhani area.

A sitting MP from Pilibhit, BJP has fielded Maneka from Sultanpur in this election where she faces Sanjay Sinh of Congress and Chandra Bhadra Singh of BSP.

Speaking on the BSP candidate, Maneka says, “There is no challenge here. But the candidate elected by BSP has a criminal record, which people don’t like. The decent residents here do not want to vote for a criminal.”

Speaking on Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, Maneka said, “Priyanka Gandhi is not a challenge. The question is not about the person, but the party.”