Digvijaya Singh, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and senior Congress leader, triggered a controversy on Tuesday with a remark that "people are wearing saffron and committing rapes". The BJP has hit out at the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, questioning if this was an attempt to defame seers.
"A person after parting ways with his family becomes a sadhu (monk)... and turns to spirituality. Today, people wearing saffron clothes are selling churan (herbal mixture), people are wearing saffron clothes and committing rapes, rapes are happening inside temples, Is this our religion? Those who have defamed our Sanatan Dharma (ancient religion), not even god will forgive them," Digvijaya Singh said in Hindi while addressing a conclave of Hindu seers in Bhopal, where Chief Minister Kamal Nath too was present on stage.
While Mr Singh, who has created controversies with his comments in the past, did not take names, his remarks come close on the heels of a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team probing allegations of rape made against BJP leader and former union minister Chinmayanand by a law student in Uttar Pradesh.
Mr Singh did not end his comments there. "Efforts are on in the country to capture mutts and temples, convert them into centers of politics. We'll have to fight it. I appeal to the seers of the Sanatan Dharma not to be used politically," he said.
The meeting was organised by Namdas Tyagi, also known as Computer Baba. In the previous BJP government headed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan, he was appointed as one of the five ministers in charge of a project linked to the river Narmada.
The BJP slammed the Congress government over Mr Singh's "rapes inside temples" remark. "Was the conclave of Hindu seers organised to defame the seers and their religion? Chief Minister Kamal Nath needs to make it clear," Madhya Pradesh BJP spokesperson Rahul Kothari said.
The BJP spokesperson also tweeted a photo of Mr Nath in which he is seated in a manner in which his shoe is facing a Hindu seer seated next to him at the event. Mr Kothari demanded an apology from both Digvijaya Singh and the Chief Minister.
BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya hit out Mr Singh. "Condemnable and bad behavior. We get to know about the Congress's attitude towards the nation looking at how their leaders behave towards our venerable saints who are conductors and protectors of the culture. Kamal Nath sits beside saints and shows his shoes and Digvijaya (Singh) sees people in saffron as rapist," he tweeted.
Earlier this month, Mr Singh triggered a controversy with his comment that the BJP and Bajrang Dal are taking money from the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI for "spying". Slamming the Congress leader, the BJP said he is speaking the "language of Pakistan".
Speaking at Tuesday's event, Kamal Nath accused his predecessor Shivraj Singh's BJP government of corruption. "In the Congress regime, the seers don't need to demand anything. They will get what they want," he said.
"I'm fortunate that I got an opportunity to participate in this Sant Samagam. The BJP is disturbed by this now just like it was disturbed when I was getting a temple built out of my own money in Chhindwara in the past," the Chief Minister said.
(With inputs from PTI)
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.