New Delhi: The BJP on Sunday suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal for their alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad, as it sought to defuse the row over the issue.
Amid protests by Muslim groups over the remarks, the party also issued a statement aimed at assuaging the concerns of minorities and distancing itself from these members, asserting that it respects all religions and strongly denounces the insult of any religious personality.
While Sharma's comments during a TV debate aimed at the founder of Islam have drawn the ire of Muslim groups, Jindal also posted objectionable tweets, deleted later, and has been accused of often posting inciting comments.
Their comments also sparked a Twitter trend calling for boycotting Indian products in some countries.
A communication to Sharma from the party's disciplinary committee secretary Om Pathak said she has expressed views contrary to the party's position on various matters, which is in clear violation of its constitution.
"Pending further inquiry, you are suspended from the party and from your responsibilities, assignments if any, with immediate effect," it said.
A communication from Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta to Jindal said his views on social media vitiate communal harmony and are in violation of the party's fundamental beliefs.
He has acted against the party's policies and ideology, Gupta said.
"Your primary membership is immediately terminated and you are expelled from the party," Gupta said.
Jindal told PTI that he had tweeted asking a question to those attacking and insulting Hindu deities and it was not aimed at hurting the religious sentiments of any community.
Before cracking the whip on the two members, the party also issued a statement underscoring its respect for all religions and their revered figures.
Party general secretary Arun Singh said in a statement that the party is strongly against any ideology which insults or demeans any sect or religion.
The BJP does not promote such people or philosophy, he said.
The BJP statement, however, made no direct mention of any incident or comment.
Sharma's remarks have drawn protests from Muslim groups.
The statement announcing action against Sharma and Jindal also made no particular reference to their controversial remarks.
Singh said, "During the thousands of years of history of India every religion has blossomed and flourished. The Bharatiya Janata Party respects all religions. The BJP strongly denounces insult of any religious personalities of any religion."
India's Constitution gives the right to every citizen to practice any religion of his or her choice and to honour and respect every religion, he said.
"As India celebrates 75th year of its Independence, we are committed to making India a great country where all are equal and everyone lives with dignity, where all are committed to India's unity and integrity, where all enjoy the fruits of growth and development," the BJP leader said.