As the Intolerance debate rages on , in a dramatic u- turn former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has said that he had no hesitation to admit that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book ‘Satanic Verses’ was wrong by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s regime . “I have no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book was a mistake,” he said at the Times Lit Fest event in the capital. A remark that has sparked off a major debate . The BJP was quick to respond to Chidambaram’s comments stating there was intolerance during the Congress regime too.
He also said that he was worried about the rise of intolerance in India. “What is of profound concern to me is the rise of intolerance in the country,” he said. He added that ‘illiberalism’ was on the rise. “We’ve been an illiberal society. Recently, illiberalism is on rise. However, illiberalism has always failed,” he said.
Meanwhile , the author in the limelight , Rushdie asked how many more years it would take to correct the “mistake”. Rushdie took to Twitter to say, “This admission just took 27 years. How many before the ‘mistake’ is corrected?”
The publication of the ‘Satanic Verses’ in 1988 was followed by a fatwa by Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Khomenini calling for Rushdie to be killed, forcing the author to go into hiding.
Earlier in 2012, the author had to pull out from the Jaipur Literature Festival citing threats by some Muslim groups and had to even cancel a subsequent video address in the same festival.