Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday defended ‘Shastra Puja’ performed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a hand-over ceremony for the first Rafale jet in France, saying that it is part of Indian tradition. “I think everything he did was right. Iss desh mein uska mahatva hai (it has importance in this country),” said Sitharaman after reporters sought comment from her over the controversy.
Sitharaman addressed a press conference in Pune as part of the BJP’s assembly election campaign.
On October 8, the Defence Minister had performed a traditional “Shastra Puja” on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami. He also wrote the Sanskrit word “Om” on the body of the aircraft, sprinkled it with flowers and made a coconut offering. He also placed a lime next to each of the front wheels — a practice meant to ward off evil — before a sortie in the jet.
“What’s wrong in it?,” Sitharaman countered a journalist who asked the question. “If you think that this is blind faith, you believe that. He did that on a day of Vijayadashmi and he marked the jet with an ‘Om’. What’s wrong with that?” she said. She said that similar things have happened during earlier governments and also in other countries. “You may call it blind faith. Never mind. Let those who have faith do them. In this country, these things have their own importance and I think what he did was right,” said Sitharaman.
The Finance Minister added that the BJP government was committed to the economic well being of the country and to bring in deep structural reforms and that the move on corporate tax was a testimony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s will to implement the changes.
“We are committed to deep structural reforms. After the budget, every week or once in 10-days I have made important announcements. They are not just for the temporary easing of issues. For example, the corporate tax cut came with a complete structural overhaul. We gave a system through which you will join in a tax, and pay a certain level of tax without any exemption complicating the process. It was neat. And that kind of a bold step can be taken only by a prime minister who is committed for deep structural reforms,” said Sitharaman.