Vice President-elect M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday rejected as "political propaganda" the view that there is a sense of insecurity among minorities in the country, apparently a rejoinder to outgoing Vice President Hamid Ansari.
Though Naidu did not name anyone, his comments are seen as a response to Ansari's remarks in a TV interview that there were unease and a sense of insecurity among Muslims in the country, and that "ambience of acceptance" is now under threat.
"Some people are saying minorities are insecure. It is a political propaganda. Compared to the entire world, minorities are more safe and secure in India and they get their due," Naidu told PTI.
He also disagreed with the view that there is growing intolerance, saying Indian society is the most tolerant in the world because of its people and civilisation.
There is a tolerance that is why democracy is so successful, he said.
The former BJP president also cautioned against creating a divide in the nation by singling out one community, saying it will draw an adverse reaction from other communities.
"If you single out one community, other communities will take it otherwise. That is why we say all are equal. Appeasement for none justice for all," the 68-year-leader and former Union minister said.
He said history has proved that there is no discrimination against minorities.
"They (minorities) got in prominent positions including constitutional responsibilities because there is no discrimination, and also on account of their merit," he said.
Noting that India's uniqueness is its unity in diversity, he said 'sarva dharm sadbhav' and secularism is in the mind and blood of India.
"India is secular not because of political leaders but because of its people and civilisation," he said.
Ansari's remarks come against the backdrop of incidents of alleged intolerance and violence by self-proclaimed cow protectors, for which opposition parties have attacked the central government.
Asked about incidents of alleged intolerance, Naidu said India is a huge country and there could be some "stray" occurrences, which are "nothing but aberrations".
He, however, added that "Nobody can justify attacks on fellow citizens on the basis of the community". Such incidents should be condemned and action should be taken by appropriate authorities, he said.
Naidu also said that some people blow out of proportion such incidents for political considerations. Some go to the extent of "defaming" the county by raising such issues at the international forum.
Some do it to create a rift between communities and derive political mileage, he said, adding the basic problem arises due to vote bank politics and due to treating a community as a vote bank.
A day before he takes oath as India's next vice president, he said his advice to politicians is not to drag communities into politics.