Days ahead of Assembly elections in Rajasthan, senior Congress leader C P Joshi on Friday triggered a controversy, saying only Brahmins knew about Hindu religion. The Congress swung into damage control mode after a video clip of his speech went viral. Congress president Rahul Gandhi publicly rebuked the former Union minister after which he expressed regret. Addressing a gathering in Sema village in Nathdwara, from where he is contesting, the former Union minister first hit out at the BJP, asking how it can give certificates on who is a Hindu.
“What is Uma Bharti’s caste? Does anyone know? What is the caste of (Sadhvi) Rithambara. Is it known? If anyone knows about religion in the country, it is the pandit…..vidwan, pandit…some say Brahmins…It has become strange (development) in this country. Uma Bharti belongs to the Lodh community and she talks of Hindu religion. Sadhviji belongs to some religion, she talks about Hindu religion. Narendra Modi belongs to some religion, he talks about Hindu religion,” he said, adding in a sarcastic tone, “Brahmins have no role anymore and Brahmins don’t understand”.
Own goal in tight game, blow to Rahul’s outreach
Senior Congress leader C P Joshi’s remark that only Brahmins know about the Hindu religion, and his personal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union minister Uma Bharti, and Hindutva preacher Sadhvi Rithambara, have lowered the already poor political discourse by another notch, and brought needless embarrassment and controversy to the Congress in an election-bound state. He has handed the BJP a stick to beat the Congress with — and the party, which is hoping to win back Rajasthan, now has to make a lot of effort to try to ensure that no negative message from the comment passes on to its backward caste voters. The retraction and apology notwithstanding, Joshi’s statement definitely hurts Rahul Gandhi’s much publicised Dalit outreach — which was reflected in the Congress president’s swift call to Joshi to regret his statement.
Rahul disapproved of Joshi’s comments in a tweet. He said Joshi’s remarks do not reflect, and are contrary, to the ideals of the Congress and urged party leaders to refrain from making such statements. “C P Joshi’s remark is contrary to the Congress party’s ideals. Party leaders should not give any such statement that hurts any segment of the society,” he tweeted. “While respecting the Congress party’s principles and the sentiments of party workers, I am sure Joshiji will realise his mistake. He should express regret over his remarks,” he added.
Soon, Joshi expressed regret. “Respecting the principles of the Congress party and the sentiments of party workers, I express regret if my statement has hurt the feelings of any section of society,” Joshi tweeted. The BJP attacked the Congress over Joshi’s remarks and said Rahul must take responsibility and express regret. Stressing that Joshi had “insulted the Indian culture as well as the Hindu religion”, BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi accused the Congress of “dividing every religion for power”.
“The statement of Congress leader (Joshi) is baseless, wrong and condemnable. It reflects that the Congress doesn’t know the history of Indian culture and Hindu religion,” the PTI quoted Trivedi as having said at a press conference in Jaipur.