New Delhi: Amid a row over Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin’s remarks, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday made a scathing attack on the Opposition and said that the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) alliance has been formed to “oppose” and “finish” the Sanatan Dharma. Addressing a press conference at party headquarters in the national capital, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Opposition alliance of vote bank politics.
“…Their hidden agenda is to do vote bank politics by opposing Sanatana Dharma…I ask the Congress party and this alliance – Do they have the right to criticise deities of some other faith? Do they have the courage? Can they do it?… They stay silent on other religions but openly oppose Sanatana,” Prasad said.
#WATCH | BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad says, “DMK Education Minister Ponmudy’s remark has come to light. There is a saying in English ‘The cat is out of the bag’. What they thought has become clear. INDIA alliance has been formed to oppose and finish Sanatana Dharma…He said this… pic.twitter.com/0YCcdHCMWU
— ANI (@ANI) September 12, 2023
The BJP leader also accused the INDIA bloc of having a hidden agenda to attack Sanatan Dharma and questioned the “silence” of Opposition leaders amid frequent critical remarks by DMK leaders about the ancient faith.
Firing a fresh salvo at the Opposition over the issue, Prasad targeted the Congress leadership saying the longer Sonia Gandhi maintains silence over the matter the more it will be clear that opposing Sanatan Dharma is part of the INDIA bloc’s common minimum programme.
Prasad seized on a recent comment by a DMK leader that it is the bloc’s agenda to oppose Sanatan Dharma, and said what the Tamil Nadu leader has said is right. “The BJP will urge this alliance to come out with a categorical resolution that we completely disassociate ourselves (from DMK’s criticism) and this is not our agenda,” he said at a press conference.
With the DMK linking Sanatan Dharma with the practice of caste discrimination among Hindus to justify its criticism, the BJP leader noted that temples dedicated to revered people from backward castes like Shabir, Kewat and Saint Ravidas have been built.
The Sanatan Dharma believes that one irrespective of his caste and community background can attain God with their devotion, he claimed. The Congress has, meanwhile, maintained that it believes in respecting every faith.
Hitting back, Prasad said while Opposition leaders from those in the DMK to some in parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party have been vocal in criticising Sanatan Dharma and holy books associated with Hinduism, can they summon the courage to criticise other faiths and their holy figures.
India’s culture and heritage are being insulted every day, he said, asserting that the BJP will reach out to villages across the country over the issue and spoke of Vikas (development) and Virasat (heritage).
Why this “shameful denigration” of Sanatan, he said, claiming the country will not tolerate insult to it. Prasad also spoke of the prominence given to the Konark Chakra and ancient Nalanda University during the recent G20 Summit meeting hosted by India.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chairing a meeting of the Council of Ministers, weighed in on the furore around Udhayanidhi’s remarks, and according to sources asked his ministers to aggressively counter the attack on Sanatan Dharma.
He advised his ministers to counter the Opposition’s narrative on the Sanatan Dharma with facts. Earlier, Trichy police booked BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya for allegedly spreading misinformation and distorting Udhayanidhi’s remarks.
The move was seen as a response to Udhayanidhi and Congress leader Priyank Kharge being booked for allegedly “hurting religious sentiments”. An FIR was filed on a complaint by two advocates at Rampur in Uttar Pradesh.