Politicians in India are no stranger to controversies. From Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb and his counterpart in Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, to senior leader Sharad Yadav, leaders from across the political spectrum hit the headlines this for all the wrong reasons. We revisit 10 of the controversial statements made by Indian politicians this year.
1) Internet existed in Mahabharata era: Biplab Deb
Ever since he took charge of Tripura this year, Chief Minister Biplab Deb has stayed in the news for his remarks on subjects ranging from employment crisis to the possibility of technology in the mythical past.
In April this year, the chief minister said the internet was invented lakhs of years ago and that the technology and satellites were present during the period of Mahabharata. “Many may decline the fact, but if the internet was not there, how Sanjay, could see the war in Kurukshetra and describe it to Dhritarashtra? It means the internet was there, the satellites and that technology was there in this country at that time,” he said.
Aishwarya Rai face of Indian women, not Diana Hayden: Biplab Deb
The Tripura chief minister claimed that the international beauty pageants were a farce and questioned the rationale behind crowning Diana Hayden “Miss World” 21 years ago. Deb said: “Whoever contested the international beauty pageants won. For five consecutive years, we won the Miss World/Miss Universe awards. Diana Hayden won it too. Do you think she should have won the title?”, adding that Aishwarya Rai, another Miss World, deserved the title as she is the face of Indian women.
2) Demolish Jama Masjid, hang me if idols not found: BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj
BJP MP and firebrand Hindutva leader Sakshi Maharaj urged people to demolish the Mughal-era Jama Masjid in Delhi, claiming it would result in the discovery of Hindu idols.
Amid growing chorus for bringing in the legislation to construct a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya, the BJP MP from Unnao also said he be hanged if idols were not found below the staircase of Jama Masjid. “Main rajniti mein jab aya to mera pehla statement tha Mathura mein… Ayodhya, Mathura, Kashi ko choro… Delhi ki Jama Masjid toro, agar siriyon mein murtiyan na mile to mujhe fansi pe latka dena… Aj bhi main kayam hun..” (When I came to politics, my first statement was in Mathura. To leave Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi aside and demolish Jama Masjid in Delhi and if idols are now found below the staircase then I should be hanged. I still stand by this statement), Maharaj said.
3) Women cry rape after falling out with partners: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar
In November this year, following reports on the increasing number of rape incidents in Haryana, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said: “The biggest concern is that in 80 to 90 per cent of rape and eve-teasing cases, the accused and the victim know each other. In many cases, they know each other for a long time and, on one day, when there is an argument… an FIR is lodged, saying: ‘He has raped me’.”
Khattar’s remarks caused outrage, with many demanding an apology from the chief minister. Khattar later said his remarks were “twisted” and that the issue should not be politicised.
4) Give rest to Vasundhra Raje, she has become fat: Sharad Yadav
During a campaign trial in the recently-held assembly election in Rajasthan, senior leader Sharad Yadav created a controversy when he suggested that BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Vasundhara Raje has become “very fat” and “tired”. “Raje requires some rest as she has become “very fat” and “tired”. “Aur ye Vasundhara, isko aaram do, bahut thak gayi hai. Bahut moti ho gayi hai… Pehle patli thi… Hamare Madhya Pradesh ki beti hai. Isko kaho ki aaram kare (And this Vasundhara, give her rest, she has become very tired… has become very fat… Earlier she was thin… She is a daughter of Madhya Pradesh. Ask her to rest).”
Raje said she felt “insulted” by his remarks. Yadav later apologised and expressed regret over his remarks.
5) Hanuman was a Dalit: Yogi Adityanath
Addressing a rally in Rajasthan’s Alwar ahead of the Assembly elections in November this year, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said, “Hanuman was a forest dweller, deprived and a Dalit. ‘Bajrang Bali’ worked to unite all Indian communities, from north to south and east to west”. The remark caused backlash, even within the party. State minister Om Prakash Rajbhar said it was wrong to divide Gods into castes.
Ali, Bajrang Bali: Yogi Adityanath’s jibe at Congress
After a video purportedly showing Congress leader Kamal Nath asking for Muslim votes ahead of the Madhya Pradesh state assembly elections in November, UP CM Yogi Adityanath reacted to the video, saying: “Kamal Nath said they don’t need SC, ST votes. They need just the votes of Muslims. You keep your Ali, for us Bajrang Bali will be enough.”
6) Not Dalit or Muslim, Hanuman is now a Jat?
After UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Hanuman is a Dalit tribal’ remark, Hanuman got his third identity with Minister for Religious Affairs Chaudhary Laxmi Narayan claiming that “Hanuman was a Jat”. “I think Hanuman ji was a Jat. It is in the nature of a Jat to help anyone who is in trouble, irrespective of whether the concerned person is known to him or her. It is similar to the way in which Hanuman joined Lord Ram to rescue Sita after she was abducted by Raavan,” he was quoted as saying.
Earlier, BJP MLC Bukkal Nawab had claimed that the deity was a Muslim. “Jahan tak baat hoti hai Hanuman ji ko batne ki, hum batadein ki Hanuman ji pure vishwa ke they, har dharma ke they, har mazhab ke the…(Hanuman belongs to the whole world, every religion…),” Nawab had said.
7) PM Modi a ‘scorpion sitting on Shivling’: Shashi Tharoor
The BJP demanded the ouster of senior Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor after he, quoting an RSS leader, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is like a “scorpion sitting on a Shivling.”
Tharoor, who was addressing an audience at the Bengaluru Literature Festival in October, this year, said: “There is an extraordinarily striking metaphor expressed by an unnamed RSS source to a journalist, that, ‘Modi is like a scorpion sitting on a Shivling, you can’t remove him with your hand & you cannot hit it with a chappal either’.”
8) Modi’s ‘Ramayan’ jibe at Renuka Chowdhury
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in the Rajya Sabha during the budget session, Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary had burst into laughter, drawing disapproval from Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. She was reacting to Modi’s statement that the concept of Aadhaar was mooted in 1998 by the then home minister L K Advani. When Naidu asked Chowdhary to behave, Modi urged him not to restrain the Congress MP. “It is for the first time after the Ramayana serial that we are having the good fortune of hearing such laughter today,” Modi had said.
9) Only Brahmins can talk about Hinduism: Congress leader CP Joshi
A video clip showed senior Congress leader CP Joshi purportedly saying that only Brahmins can talk about Hinduism. Joshi also questioned how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP leader Uma Bharti could speak about Hinduism given their caste.
“Does anyone know what is the caste of Uma Bharti? What is the caste of Sadhvi Ritambhara? In this country, if anyone knows about religion, it is the Pandits and the Brahmins. Uma Bharti is a Lodhi, and she talks about Hinduism, Modi Ji talks about Hinduism. It’s only Brahmins who don’t talk about it. The country is being misled. Religion and governance are two different things. Everyone has the right to practice their religion,” he said.
10)MeToo started by people with perverted minds: Pon Radhakrishnan
Union Minister and senior BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan had said that the #MeToo movement was started by “people with perverted minds”. “If someone makes an allegation that such a thing happened…..when the incident happened we were playing together while in class 5….Would it be fair?” Radhakrishnan, Union Minister of State for Shipping and Finance had said. “This (MeToo movement) is the result of the behaviour of some people who have perverted minds.” He further stated that he wonders if it would be right for men to start “making similar accusations like them”. “That will be such a big insult….Will it be acceptable?”