Baba Ramdev’s remark on Rahul Gandhi visiting Dalit houses for “honeymoon and picnic” have not only marked a new low this poll season, but also sparked a war of words.
On Saturday, the yoga guru, against whom an FIR has already been registered, came under fire from several political parties for his comment.
The BJP, however, defended Ramdev, saying his usage of an English word has been misunderstood. “Honeymoon is an English word. Like we say the government’s honeymoon period is over. It does not mean the government has gone to Goa. Similarly, Ramdev meant that Rahul Gandhi goes there without purpose. He (Ramdev) did not mean what Congress leaders are trying to suggest,” said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.
At a gathering in Lucknow on Friday, Ramdev had said, “He (Rahul) goes to the houses
of Dalits for honeymoon and picnic.”
In the backdrop of the row, the Election Commission came out with fresh guidelines against making “malicious” statements about the private life of individuals. It also cautioned against invoking religion as it may create disharmony among people.
After his comment created a stir, Ramdev clarified, “People have taken what I said in the wrong way.”
“It was presented in the wrong way. I did not mean to insult Rahul Gandhi or Dalits. Rahul Gandhi makes publicity with photos of him sitting in the homes of Dalits. If my statement hurt the Dalits, I regret it,” Ramdev said.
However, his explanation came rather belatedly, after political parties demanded action against him.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram, said, “It is a shameful and despicable statement. I am ashamed that somebody can make a statement like this and still a political party can embrace it.”
The party fielded Dalit leaders Kumari Selja and Krishna Tirath to attack Ramdev at their press briefing, with the former stating that the remarks by the yoga guru reflected a “perverse” mindset of one who has no regard and respect for Dalit women and views them only as a “commodity”.
“We strongly deplore his remarks and demand an unconditional apology both from him and Modi,” she said. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “Yoga has a spiritual and physical dimension. The kind of language used shows the mindset of those who use gutter language. It is an insult to Dalits and women. Such language reflects intolerance and bigotry mindset.” Sobha Oza, chairman of the All India Mahila Congress sought to highlight Ramdev’s alleged close association with Modi, saying Ramdev is one of the “nine jewels” of Modi and “is the most important figure in his coterie”.
“...he says such remarks and Modi stays silent. So it seems Modi endorses his remarks, he should answer to the country whether he endorses such a remark or they should apologise to Dalits,” Oza said. (With PTI inputs)