A BJP worker washed the feet of Nishikant Dubey, the party’s Lok Sabha MP from Godda, Jharkhand, and drank the water in Godda block Sunday, triggering a huge uproar on social media as a video of the incident was shared widely.
The incident took place when Dubey went to Kanhwara village to lay the foundation stone for a bridge.
Both the MP and the party worker who drank the water after washing his feet — Dubey called it “charanamrit” — have defended the action.
As the incident received criticism, the party worker concerned, Pawan Sah, told The Indian Express over phone on Monday that he plans to take legal action against everyone who criticised his action, including the media. “What I did was a personal choice. Why should people begin a hue and cry?” he asked.
On social media, Dubey defended the action and said it was part of Indian tradition. He pointed out that it is a practice among tribal women, and was also found in Mahabharat. He later told The Indian Express over phone that he had no choice but to let Sah do what he wanted.
Dubey, who had courted controversy in June by offering legal help to those accused in lynching of two people on suspicion of cattle theft in Godda, said, “I couldn’t put it out on Facebook, but I had two choices: a man washing my feet, or a man threatening to kill himself. Pawan is not a young worker. He has been RSS/BJP worker since the 1990s.
In 1990, he had been jailed for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. He was jailed later for protesting against Bangladeshi immigrants. When I won in 2014, he cut his thumb to put tilak on my forehead with his blood. He had jumped in a pit to take a look at PM Narendra Modi during a rally…. Even yesterday, when he said he would kill himself with a knife, he was carrying one. What do you suggest I should have done, when I know his passionate nature?”
During Sunday’s programme, Sah, a former block-level general secretary of the BJP, told the gathering amid rapturous applause that in 2009 he had vowed to drink the water after washing the feet of anyone who “brings a bridge to the village”. He told the local media that he was only fulfilling that promise.
In a video clip lasting over a minute, Dubey is seen sitting and smiling, seemingly embarrassed at the request. He is subsequently seen getting up and placing his feet in a brass plate, where Sah washes them. Sah is then shown asking for a ‘gamchha’ (traditional cotton towel) and wiping the MP’s feet. Sah subsequently drank a little water from the plate, according to the video.
Sharing the picture of his feet being washed on Facebook, the MP wrote (in Hindi): “Today, I feel like a small worker of the BJP. A great (party) worker washed my feet in front of thousands…in his happiness for the bridge…”
Dubey, in another post four hours later, stated (in Hindi), “If a worker was expressing his happiness and washed the feet, what is so surprising? He had vowed before people…I didn’t want to hurt his sentiments… Did Krishna not wash feet in Mahabharat?)”