- Yogi Adityanath took a holy dip at the Kumbh Mela along with his cabinet
- "You want to keep Ganga clean and also wash sins," Shashi Tharoor tweeted
- He does not understand the importance of Kumbh, a UP minister retorted
Yogi Adityanath's holy dip at the Kumbh Mela along with his cabinet has inspired Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to post a rare Hindi tweet, along with a veiled dig. Yogi Adityanath, the saffron-wearing chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, called a meeting of his cabinet at the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, formerly Allahabad, on Tuesday, and followed it up with a dip in the Sangam or the holy confluence of three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
"You want to keep the Ganga clean and also wash sins there. Everyone is naked in this sangam. Jai Ganga Maiya Ki," Shashi Tharoor tweeted.
गंगा भी स्वच्छ रखनी है और पाप भी यहीं धोने हैं। इस संगम में सब नंगे हैं!- Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) January 29, 2019
जय गंगा मैया की! pic.twitter.com/qAmHThAJjD
Yogi Adityanath, a monk-turned-chief minister, is seen in images wearing a saffron cloth around his waist as he and is ministers, accompanied by some sadhus, wade into the river for their ceremonial dip.
Reacting sharply to Mr Tharoor's post, union minister Smriti Irani said, "For Shashi Tharoor to make a statement which tantamounts to a religious slur... Question needs to be asked of Rahul Gandhi who strategically wears a 'janeu' (sacred thread) only when there are polls, as to why he has allowed this attack on beliefs of millions of Hindus across the world."
Her party colleague and UP Minister Siddharth Nath Singh said: "How will he understand the importance of Kumbh? The atmosphere he's in, the culture he has been brought up in, he doesn't understand this. You people have committed a lot of misdeeds, take a holy dip in Kumbh and you might be able to repent for your sins."
The BJP-led government in Uttar Pradesh pulled out all the stops to make the annual Kumbh fair a grand event, even though it is not the full event but only Ardha (half) Kumbh. Opposition parties like the Congress have accused Yogi Adityanath, one of the BJP's star campaigners, of trying to exploit the mega religious gathering in India's most politically critical state ahead of the national election due by May.
"Politics and religion are not far apart," Yogi Adityanath told reporters on the criticism.
After the cabinet meeting, the chief minister announced a massive Rs 36,000 crore Ganga expressway project to connect western Uttar Pradesh's Meerut to Prayagraj. Yogi Adityanath claimed it would be the world's longest expressway at about 600 km.