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Saturday 18 January 2020

Congress squabbles over shastra puja: Nirupam slams Kharge

Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam today fired a salvo at Mallikarjun Kharge, condemning the latter as an 'atheist' for criticising Rajnath Singh's shastra puja during the ceremony where France handed over the first Rafale fighter plane to India

Loaded statements and allegations continue to be traded between politicians in the Congress even as Assembly elections in three states approach including in Maharashtra where Sanjay Nirupam has taken on Mallikarjun Kharge over the issue of defence Minister Rajnath Singh performing a shastra puja during the ceremony where France handed over the first Rafale fighter jet to India. Congress leaders, who had earlier questioned the defence minister’s participation in a Hindu ritual in Bordeaux on Vijayadashami, are now in the line of fire from rebels of their own party.

Congress rebel Sanjay Nirupam has called Kharge an “atheist” after the former Union minister slammed the government for conducting a Hindu ritual while accepting the first Rafale jet for India. Nirupam had attacked Kharge on Twitter yesterday, saying such strategists seal the fate of the Congress.

On Kharge’s statement, Sanjay Nirupam said that arms worship could not be called a spectacle. Arms worship is part of the old tradition of our country, he said. “The problem is that Mallikarjun Kharge is an atheist, but not everyone in the Congress can be an atheist,” he said.

Senior Congress leader Kharge had questioned the shastra puja by the defence minister, calling the ritual a “spectacle”. He had said, “Such a spectacle was not needed. When we bought weapons like Bofors, no one went there (in Sweden) for a show-off.”

Kharge had said, however, whether it was right or wrong to write (Om) on a Rafale plane was for the IAF officers to decide. He said, “These people go, pretend and even sit inside (the plane).”

Former MP Sandeep Dikshit had supported Kharge’s stand, too. Congress leader Dikshit had said the defence minister need not have gone all the way to France to receive the country’s first Rafale fighter jet. He said IAF officers could do this work.

Pointing at the religious ceremony, including performing shastra puja during the handover of Rafale and inscribing on the jet, Dikshit said it made no sense to link Rafale with Dussehra. He launched a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government, saying that it is adept at dramatising everything without offering anything concrete.

Not the one to be put down with criticism, Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah questioned during a public meeting in Haryana why the Congress did not like Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s shastra puja during the receipt of Rafale in France. “Is shastra puja not performed on Vijayadashami? The Congress should know when to criticise and when not to.”

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