After Defence Minister Rajnath Singh came under fire from the opposition and on social media for conducting "shastra puja" on the first Rafale jet handed over to India by France, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman came out in his defence today, saying "those who had faith had the right" to conduct rituals.
Rajnath Singh was criticised by many after he placed lemons under the wheels of the Rafale jet, placed a coconut, offered flowers and drew an 'Om' sign in the devnagri script. "Performed Shastra Puja on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami. Worshipping weapons on Vijayadashami has been our tradition," he had tweeted after performing rituals.
Ms Sitharaman defended the linking of Mr Singh's act to Indian culture, saying a previous, unnamed defence minister and his wife launched Navy ships as per rituals followed in their faith, reported news agency PTI.
"At that time in India, how many of us worried about superstition? Were we worried?" Ms Sitharaman was quoted as saying by PTI.
"So what is wrong? We strongly believe that you need to have the strength to be able to take such decisions and benefit the country," she said. "You may not approve of it, you may think oh this is superstition, never mind. Vishwas jinka hai woh karte hain, iss desh mein usko mahatva hai (Those who have faith, do it, and I think he has every right)," she added.
Many social media users also tweeted an old video clip dating back to 2017 of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he reportedly condemned the "blind beliefs" of those who placed lemons in their cars.
"Apne car ke upar nimbu-mirchi aur pata nahi kya kya...Yeh log desh ko kya prerna denge? Aisee andh shraddha mein jeene wale log sarwajanik jiwan ka bahut ahit karte hain. (On their car, they place lemons, chilli and what not..How will such people inspire the country? People living with such blind beliefs cause lot of harm to public life)," PM Modi is heard saying in the clip.
Ms Sitharaman came to the defence of PM Modi as well saying he was correct, saying the government had not "abandoned" science, reported PTI.
Mr Singh himself said he "did what I thought was right".
"People can say whatever they want. I did what I thought was right and I will continue to do so. This is our faith, that there is a superpower and I have believed it since childhood," he said.
(With Inputs From PTI)