- Rajnath Singh had performed a "Shastra puja" in Paris
- Abhishek Manu Singhvi, tweeted that Rajnath "is just following customs"
- Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had called the Puja "tamasha"
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's "Shastra Puja" at the Rafale jet handover in France, which has provoked a huge debate online and also digs from opposition parties, drew the support of a lone Congress leader today. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, veering from his party line, tweeted that the minister "is just following customs."
Mr Singhvi was responding to a tweet that mocked the rituals. "Only two things are infinite, universe and exaggeration. Looking at this tweet, latter beats the former. Jokes aside l, if an Indian is performing a Pooja as per Indian customs, there is no need to deride it. Raksha Mantri is just following customs," tweeted the Congress leader.
Only two things are infinite, universe and exaggeration. Looking at this tweet, latter beats the former. Jokes aside l, if an Indian is performing a Pooja as per Indian customs, there is no need to deride it. Raksha Mantri is just following customs.https://t.co/afFJWUmpIa— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) October 10, 2019
After the formal handover of the first of the 36 Rafale jets, Rajnath Singh had performed a "Shastra puja" -- the traditional veneration of weapons on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami. He wrote the Sanskrit word "Om" on the body of the aircraft, sprinkled it with flowers and made a coconut offering. He also placed a lime next to each of the front wheels -- a practice meant to ward off evil -- before flying off on a sortie in the jet.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had called the Defence Minister's prayers "tamasha" (drama), pointing out that the Congress made no such display when the Bofors guns were purchased.
"There is no need to do such ''tamasha''. When we bought weapons like the Bofors gun previously purchased, no one went and brought them while showing off," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The BJP retorted: "Congress has problems with: Air Force modernisation. Indian customs and traditions. For a Party used to worshiping Quattrocchi, 'Shastra Puja' is naturally a problem. And, Kharge Ji, thank you for reminding us about the Bofors Scam."
Another Congress leader, Sanjay Nirupam, targeted his party colleague instead. "There has been an old tradition of 'shastra puja' in our country. The problem is that Kharge Ji (Mallikarjun Kharge) is an atheist. In the Congress party, not everyone is an atheist," he said.
But then, Mr Nirupam is not exactly Mr Kharge's fan at the moment. He hit out at the veteran last week while declaring that he would not campaign for the Congress in the Maharashtra polls. Mr Kharge, the in-charge for Maharashtra, had ignored his recommendations for party candidates, he alleged.
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