"I feel that each and every religion should be equally respected," Mamata Banerjee said.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday signalled her disapproval at Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin over his "Sanatana Dharma" remarks, which have set off a political maelstrom ahead of a string of state elections and drawn multiple BJP barbs. It also appears to have put Opposition bloc INDIA in a dilemma, calling upon diplomatic skills of the leaders to preserve unity.
Ms Banerjee, who has maintained silence for over a day, spoke up after Congress comments on the issue.
The Trinamool Congress chief -- who had recited scriptures ahead of the assembly polls in face of BJP allegations of minority appeasement -- declared, "We should not be involved in any matter which might hurt a section of people".
"As far as the remarks (of Udhayanidhi Stalin) is concerned, he is a junior. From my side, I am not clear about why and on what grounds he has made the comment. I feel that each and every religion should be equally respected," Ms Banerjee said on Monday evening, hours after her party spokesman called the comments "unfortunate".
"I respect the people of Tamil Nadu and South India. But my humble request to them is that to respect all as every religion has separate sentiments," Ms Banerjee said.
Pointing to the "Unity in Diversity" and India's inclusive secularism, Ms Banerjee said, "I respect the Sanatana Dharma and we derive our learnings from the Vedas... We have so many purohits and our state government offers pension to them... We have so many temples across the country. We visit temples, mosques, and churches".
Mr Stalin's comment that Sanatana Dharma "is like malaria and dengue and must be eradicated" has provided ammunition to the BJP ahead of a string of assembly elections.
Amid huge backlash on social media, the party has declared that Mr Stalin's comment is a "call for genocide" and accused Congress's Rahul Gandhi of being "Anti-Hindu" because of his silence.
The Congress has taken a nuanced stance, saying all religions should be respected and people have right to express opinions. Younger leaders of the Congress like Priyank Kharge and Karti Chidambaram have backed Stalin Junior. So has CPM's D Raja.