MP: BJP Accused of ‘Promoting Obscenity’ at Event, Congress Sprinkles Ganga Jal to ‘Purify’ Venue
Bhopal: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh, which is in the middle of a controversy over a bodybuilding championship held in Ratlam in March 4-5, has been left red-faced after Right-wing group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the state’s former home minister also condemned it.
At the 13th Mister Junior Bodybuilding Competition, women participants in bikinis were seen posing next to the idol of Lord Hanuman on the stage, triggering a controversy. According to the purported videos, women participants can be seen walking and performing on the stage with the idol of Lord Hanuman also placed on the stage.
The saffron party leaders -- a sitting MLA Chaitanya Kashyap and Ratlam Mayor Prahlad Patel, were accused of “promoting obscenity” during the championship after videos of the event went viral. As per the invitation card of the championship, the organising committee included the Patel and Kashyap as patrons and all BJP ward councillors of Ratlam as organisers.
When the issue triggered a controversy, local BJP leaders and organisers submitted a memorandum to the police demanding action against some Congress leaders for posting 'obscene' photos and disrespecting the organisers of the event. When the police refused to lodge the FIR, the party leaders not only sat on dharna but also put a lock on the main gate of the police station to register their disappointment.
The Opposition Congress which often does not respond to issues promptly, quickly launched an all-out attack on the ruling BJP, terming the even as the 'height of obscenity' and accusing the BJP leaders of making fun of Sanatan Dharma and its culture.
Some Congress leaders also 'purified' the venue by sprinkling ‘Ganga Jal’ a day after the event and also staged a protest and recited 'Hanuman Chalisa' in various places, including Bhopal and Ratlam.
"The BJP which uses religion to harness votes, has utterly disrespected lord Hanuman, a great devotee of Lord Ram," alleged former Ratlam Mayor and Congress leader Paras Saklecha in a video.
A senior BJP leader and former Home Minister joined the Hanuman Chalisa recital protest in Ratlam organised by the Congress.
Speaking at the protest site, the BJP leader said, “Our Chief Minister and the party always emphasise women's dignity but what happened in Ratlam doesn't reflect the party's ideology. Be it the BJP or the Congress, no one has the right to disrespect women and lord Hanuman. This is condemnable."
Justifying his support for the protest, the BJP leader said: "I joined the protest because it's above party lines and there were no Congress flags at the protest site. Besides, being a Hanuman devotee, I can't skip the recitation of Hanuman Chalisa."
As pressure mounted on BJP and the issue grabbed national headlines, the VHP, which has a strong base in the region, came out with a statement condemning the event.
In the statement, Sohanlal Vishwakarma, minister of VHP's Malwa region, said: "The display of women's bodies when an idol of Lord Hanuman was enshrined on the stage, who sports celibacy, is condemnable. This demonstration is going to directly hurt Hindu sentiments and faith."
He said, "We respect the game. All mother power is worshipable. But such a display is against Hindu sentiments. VHP opposes and strongly condemns this."
As the issue triggered a controversy in a poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, state Congress president Kamal Nath on Tuesday issued a statement asking party workers to recite ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ before Holika Dahan (bonfires) saying Lord Hanuman was “disrespected” at a programme organised by BJP.
Nath said it had been a tradition of the Sanatan Dharma to burn all the evils to ashes during Holika Dahan on the day of Holi. “We recently saw how Lord Bajrangbali was disrespected in the BJP’s programme in Ratlam. My heart is pained by this insult to Hindu Dharma. I urge you to burn effigies of evil in your city and village today and recite Sundar-kand (a part of Ramayana) and ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ to awaken goodness. Take part in Holika Dahan as per tradition in the night,” Nath tweeted.
To counter Congress, state BJP spokesperson Hitesh Bajpai defended the organisers and the party leaders saying the Congress did not want to see women excelling in sports.
In his video statement, Bajpai said: “Congressmen cannot see women taking part in wrestling, gymnastics or swimming because the devil inside them awakens by seeing this. They look at women on the playground with dirty eyes. Aren’t they ashamed?”
In retaliation, Piyush Babele, media advisor to Kamal Nath, sought an apology from Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan alleging that the event was held to mark the CM’s birthday on Sunday.
In a statement, Congress said that the party would boycott Bajpai in television debates for “supporting obscenity” and “disrespecting Hindus and Lord Hanuman”.
Apart from Bajpai, there's complete silence within the BJP. Even Home Minister Narottam Mishra- who objected to the saffron bikini of Deepika Padukone in the song ‘Besharam Rang’ in Shah Rukh Khan’s film Pathan, is silent.
A day after Nath's Tweet, Congress leaders recited the Hanuman Chalisa at Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) office in Bhopal on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters at the protest site, Congress spokesperson KK Mishra said: “We thought BJP would not have double standards about women’s identity. But the Ratlam incident has clarified their character. Regarding the Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone’s bikini, BJP calls her an insult to women’s pride. On the other hand, obscenity was displayed after touching the idol of Lord Hanuman in bikini in Ratlam.”
“Today, remembering Lord Hanuman, we prayed that may god give wisdom to BJP. One bikini is an insult to women's power while the other is a cultured getup, how?” Mishra added.
Apart from Congress, Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav in a Tweet also flayed BJP for “disrespecting” Lord Hanuman.
(With inputs from PTI)
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