Wednesday 7 December 2022
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PoliticsIndiaBJP MLA in Bihar: Muslims don't worship Lakshmi, Saraswati, but aren't they...

BJP MLA in Bihar: Muslims don’t worship Lakshmi, Saraswati, but aren’t they rich, educated?

Bihar BJP MLA Lalan Paswan made an awkward statement today, saying, "Muslims do not worship Goddess Lakshmi. Are there not rich people among them? They do not worship Goddess Saraswati either, but are there no scholars among them?" Describing his statement as anti-Hindu, hundreds of people demonstrated, condemning him and burning effigies of the MLA in different parts of Bhagalpur.

Seeing the ruckus snowball into a PR disaster, the MLA issued a clarification later: "I meant to say that if you believe in gods, you need not believe in stones. I believe in God, those who do not believe do not believe. I worship all gods," he said, which only aggravated the furore over his previous blooper. Demonstrators questioned whether the BJP MLA was casting aspersions on the Hindu conceptualisation of the divine.

Trying to deflect attention from his odd statements, Paswan tried a clichéd approach, branding the Hindu activists as people planted by his political rivals. "People in the opposition are creating this controversy to defame me," he said.

Paswan, the BJP MLA from Pirpainti in Bhagalpur, was talking to reporters on the beliefs in Hinduism. He said, "Everything depends on acceptance. When we leave the belief and connect it with the criterion of logic, when there is scientific-social thinking, then those people will also become like us."

The legislator did not stop at this this. He continued, "It is believed that Bajrangbali is the god of power, but Muslims and people of other religions do not worship Bajrangbali. There is no temple of Bajrangbali in America; Bajrangbali is not worshiped there, so is the US not a powerful nation?" 

"Everything is a matter of belief. If you believe, it is a god, otherwise a stone. As soon as you stop believing, this will end. Therefore, one has to think on the basis of the power of reason," Paswan said, veering towards Protestant rationality.

Hindu activists, who burnt an effigy of Paswan at Shermari Chowk in Bhagalpur, accused the MLA of hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus. The demonstrators also staged a sit-in.

The MLA was still unstoppable. He challenged, "If you have guts, talk with logic," the MLA said.

"People have fought elections against me in the past too. So there is no point in opposing them. If people have guts, talk with reason. To protest without any reason is only to create controversy and keep it alive."

The BJP MLA had boycotted the Hindu last rites that were held after the death of his mother Kuleshwari Devi. Paswan refused to participate in Shraddhanjali, calling it a "social evil". The MLA told a media house the Shraddh was a "death feast". "I am being opposed for boycotting the death feast," he had said at that point.

Trying to distance the party from the statements of the Bhagalpur MLA, BJP state spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel called Lalan Paswan an atheist. He said, "I have not heard his statement yet. However, if what you're saying is true, if this is he has said this about Ma Lakshmi, Ma Saraswati and Hanuman ji, it's a statement of an atheist 

Gopal Mandal, the JD(U) MLA from Gopalpur in Bhagalpur, said that the remarks made on the deities were inappropriate. "We are Hindus, so we believe in Ma Lakshmi for wealth. Muslims have gods too. They worship their gods."

"Lalan Paswan is a new MLA. We have many juniors to guide now. They don't like such comments," the JD(U) politician said.

Congress Legislature Party leader and Bhagalpur Sadar MLA Ajit Sharma said, "Paswan should understand that his party BJP wins elections in the name of temples. It works to divide people in elections by raising issues of Hindu-Muslim disputes. The BJP MLA should not have made such a statement that hurts religious beliefs. We are Hindus. We also worship Ma Saraswati for learning and Hanuman ji for strength. I have been able to progress this far only by the blessings of God."

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