Union Minister of State for Skill Development Ananth Kumar Hegde has again questioned Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s claims of being a Hindu and a Brahmin by raising the issue of his parentage.
Speaking at a public meeting in Sirsi town of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka on March 9, Hegde said that the Congress and Rahul were questioning the recent strikes in Pakistan by the BJP government while the Congress chief’s claims of being a Hindu were in question. Hegde is the MP from Uttara Kannada.
“They want proof it seems (of the airstrikes in Pakistan). They want proof of what the soldiers have done. Can this son of a Muslim give proof that he is a Brahmin as he claims? His father is a Muslim and mother is a Christian, how did he become a Brahmin? Can he provide any proof?” Hegde said.
“This is not a joke and I will say this on record. When Rajiv Gandhi died his body was in pieces. They needed to tally his DNA with family members. When Rahul’s DNA was sought, Sonia Gandhi said no, don’t take Rahul’s DNA. She said take Priyanka’s DNA and test it. This is the truth and I am saying it on record. They did not want Rahul’s DNA tested and only wanted Priyanka’s DNA,’’ Hegde said to laughter from the audience.
Hegde, a Brahmin, has repeatedly questioned Rahul’s claims of being a Brahmin over the past few months. In January, Hegde had stated that Rahul cannot be a Brahmin or a Hindu since his father was a Muslim (in an apparent reference to Rajiv Gandhi’s father Feroze Gandhi).
Ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections in 2018, Rahul in his attempt to break the BJP’s hold over Hindu votes had stated that he was a janeudhari Hindu (who wears a sacred thread, like Brahmins). In January this year, Hegde said at a public event that Rahul cannot be a janeudhari Hindu: “A father who is Muslim and a mother who is Christian and the son claims to be a Brahmin. How is it possible?’’
In response to Hegde’s latest remarks, Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao said, “Union minister Hegde is at it again — making crude, crass and communal remarks against Rahul. His continued diatribe indicates that he has the blessings of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to indulge in such uncouth behaviour.”
The minister has made a number of controversial statements in his speeches. In January, just before questioning Rahul’s claims of being a Brahmin, Hedge said, “We need to change the fundamentals of our thinking process. We must observe the happenings in society around us in its entirety. We must observe who is running away with whom and which community is involved. If a hand has touched a Hindu girl, then that hand must not exist.” He was addressing a meeting of the Hindu Jagaran Vedike.
The minister also claimed that the Taj Mahal was not built by Mughal king Shah Jahan but was a temple called Tejomahalaya, and that Qutub Minar was a Jain temple.
At an event of the skill development ministry in 2018, Hegde said that an Indian flew the first aircraft long before the Wright brothers did in the early 1900s.
In one of his most controversial statements, Hedge said in 2017 that the BJP would remove the word “secular” from the Constitution, but later apologised in Parliament after being confronted by the Opposition.