A Rajasthan minister has invoked Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's scepticism over cow worship, triggering protests by the opposition BJP.
Speaking in the Assembly on Monday night, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal said Savarkar had described the cow as a highly useful animal but added that there was no sense in worshipping.
"A superhuman is worshiped and there is no sense in worshipping an animal," he said, in an apparent reference to Savarkar's views.
The minister's statements invited sharp reaction on Tuesday from Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Vasudev Devnani, who alleged that it was an attack on Indian values in which cows are worshipped since long.
"Our sentiments are hurt. The context of Savarkar's views on cows in that time was different to what the minister has said in the house yesterday," Vasudev Devnani told reporters.
In the Assembly, Mr Dhariwal claimed the current views of the RSS about the definition of a Hindu are contradictory to what had been described in Savarkar's book, "Hindutva".
The minister criticised Savarkar's ideology and said he had described Hindus as those whose ancestors were born in India and their holy places are in this country.
Mr Dhariwal said when it is said one has to be a Hindu for living in "Hindustan", it creates disturbance in the society.
"He (Savarkar) had said that a man cannot be called Hindu whose holy land is in Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Israel (or) Rome," Mr Dhariwal said.
The minister claimed that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had now changed the definition of Hindu.
"He (Bhagwat) said in a meeting in Betul (Madhya Pradesh) that everyone who is living in India/Hindustan is a Hindu," Mr Dhariwal said.
The minister's comments invited sharp reaction from deputy leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore, but Speaker C P Joshi intervened and clarified that the minister was quoting Savarkar's book and was not speaking his mind.
Questioning the BJP's version of nationalism, Mr Dhariwal said no one can be called a nationalist without taking Muslims of this country along, who he stressed were the best as compared to the Muslims living in other countries.
Mr Dhariwal wondered how one can be called a nationalist if "20-22 crore Muslims of this country are ignored".
Claiming that Islamic countries were "fighting with each other everywhere across the world", he said India's Muslims are the "best".
"Without taking them along, no one can be called a nationalist," he said.