Union minister Anantkumar Hegde on Monday waded into another controversy after he questioned Rahul Gandhi’s caste and religion and asked the Congress chief to prove how “a person born to a Muslim father and Christian mother became a Gandhi”.
While referring to the Congress leader’s demands for proof of the recently-conducted Balakot airstrikes, Hegde said, “Rahul Gandhi is asking for proof of airstrikes conducted by our soldiers in Pakistan. But, I will ask, what is the proof that he is a Hindu? How did a person born to a Muslim father and Christian mother become a Gandhi? A Brahmin? Will he give DNA proof?”
However, the BJP MP is not new to courting controversies. Here’s a look back at all his major controversial remarks.
Rahul Gandhi a ‘hybrid specimen’
In January, Hegde had termed Gandhi “a hybrid specimen” that cannot be found in any laboratory in the world. “He (Rahul Gandhi) does not know this country. He has no clue about religion. Look how they lie. A father who is a Muslim, a mother who is a Christian and the son is supposed to be a Brahmin. How is that even possible?,” he had said in January.
“You will not find such a hybrid specimen in any laboratory across the world. You’ll find such specimen in Congress laboratory in this country, where the father and the son are of two different types,” he had added.
‘Hand that touches a Hindu girl…’
Known for making inflammatory speeches, Hegde had fuelled a controversy when he said that any hand that touches a Hindu girl should be cut. “There should be a fundamental shift in our thinking. We should keenly observe what’s happening around us. Regardless of caste and religion, a hand that touches a Hindu girl should not exist,” the minister had said.
Barely 24 hours later, when Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao criticised the minister over his remark, Hegde referred to Rao as “a guy who ran behind a Muslim lady.”
‘BJP here to change Constitution’
In December last year, protests broke out in Parliament after the Union minister said that his party, the ruling BJP, will soon change the Constitution of India. While addressing a function in Kukanpur of Koppal district, Hegde said that while they would “respect” the “word secular”, however, the party had come to power to change the Constitution.
“Some people say the Constitution says secular and you must accept it. We will respect the Constitution, but the Constitution has changed several times and it will change in the future too. We are here to change the Constitution and we’ll change it,” he said.
Hegde had also urged people to “claim with pride that they are Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin, or a Hindu”. He said, “Those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don’t have their own identity…They don’t know about their parentage, but they are intellectuals.”
Hegde compares Dalits to ‘barking dogs’
Last year, the minister had reportedly compared a group of protesting Dalits to”barking dogs.” When his vehicle was blocked by a group of Dalits in Karnataka, he had said, “We have our commitment to the nation and we will not be swayed by barking dogs.”
In January last year, a video had gone viral, showing Hegde, a black belt Tae Kwon Do, assaulting doctors at a private hospital in his hometown of Sirsi for not treating his mother who had been admitted with a broken leg. He was seen striking a doctor, grabbing him by the throat and slamming him against a wall. Though the doctors and the hospital authorities refused to file a complaint against Hegde, the police had registered a suo motu case against him.