Sanatan Dharma row: Respect all religions, but parties free to express views, says Congress
The Congress reaction came after the BJP questioned the silence of Congress leaders on the issue and accused the Opposition bloc of being against the Hindu religion
Amid the row that has broken out over Udhayanidhi Stalin's remarks against Sanatan Dharma, Congress on Monday (September 4) made its point of view on the matter clear saying that it respects all religions. But, the grand old party also stressed that others have the freedom to express their views.
Congress clarified its stance even as there were differing voices within the Congress and INDIA bloc on DMK leader Udhayanidhi's strong criticism of Sanatan Dharma.
Earlier, the BJP had questioned the silence of Congress leaders on the issue and accused the Opposition bloc of being against the Hindu religion. Union Minister Anurag Thakur alleged that INDIA alliance was stooping to “politics of polarization”.
AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said while the Congress' stand is clear, every other political party has the freedom to express its own view. “Actually, our view is very clear – 'Sarvadharma Sambhav' (equal respect to all religions) is the Congress ideology. But, you have to understand that every political party has its own freedom to tell their views,” he said.
“We are respecting everybody's beliefs,” the Congress leader added.
A religion that does not equal rights is a disease
Asked about the issue, Karnataka minister and Congress leader Priyank Kharge said any religion that does not give equal rights is not a religion and “is as good as a disease”. “Any religion that does not promote equality, any religion that doesn't ensure that you have the dignity of being a human being is not a religion, according to me. So it is as good as a disease,” said Priyank, who is the son of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge.
Preposterous and unfortunate
Congress leader and former Union minister Karan Singh, however, termed the DMK leader's statement as "preposterous" and "most unfortunate". “Thiru Udhayanidhi's preposterous statement that Sanatan Dharma should be eradicated is most unfortunate. Crores of people in this country follow, to a lesser or greater extent, the tenets of Sanatan Dharma. Besides, the greatest Sanatan Dharma temples in the world are in Tamil Nadu – in Thanjavur, in Srirangam, in Thiruvannamalai, in Chidambaram, in Madurai, in Suchindram, in Rameshwaram and many more,” Singh said in a statement.
“It is shocking that a responsible politician should make this kind of a totally unacceptable statement. I have the highest regard for the magnificent Tamil culture but I take strong objection to the statement made by Thiru Udhayanidhi,” he said.
Sanatana Dharma: The way to live life
Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi attacked the BJP, accusing it of showing “fake concern” over Sanatan Dharma for its politics and termed it as hypocrisy. “Sanatan Dharma stands for eternal truth – the way to live life – the conscience and being. Sanatanis have long withstood attacks by invaders to end their identity, yet they have not just survived but thrived. “The country's bedrock, which is linked to Sanatan Dharm, has been of inclusiveness of all faiths and identities. Anyone making derogatory comments against it is ignorant of what it stands for,” she said on X.
“Also, the fake concern shown by BJP over Sanatan Dharm for their politics exposes their sick hypocrisy, while they are brutally lathi-charging sanatanis, who are fighting for their rights in Maharashtra, they lathi-charged warkaris,” she said.
Alleging that Sanatana Dharma is against equality and social justice, DMK youth wing secretary and Tamil Nadu Youth Welfare Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin had said it should be eradicated.
Marketing of word Sanatan
“BJP is doing marketing of the word ‘Sanatan’. They are playing with the sentiments of the people in the name of religion,” Samajwadi Party leader Swamy Prasad Maurya said on the furore over the DMK leader’s remarks.
“BJP's own allies have disrespected Lord Ram and Lord Hanuman, they are nobody to distribute certificates of either nationalism or devotion,” Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi alleged.
Meanwhile, BJP leaders demanded that the DMK leader apologise for his comments. The party on Monday (September 4) intensified its attack on the issue, asking the Congress if the INDIA bloc had met in Mumbai to target the religion and stressed that they should not play with Hindu sentiments.
DMK defends Udhayanidhi
Udhayanidhi Stalin had likened Sanatana Dharma to coronavirus, malaria and dengue and had said such things should not be opposed but destroyed. He also referred to Sanatana Dharma as 'Sanatanam' in his address in Tamil at a meet of the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association in Chennai on Saturday (September 2).
“What is Sanatanam? The very name is only from Sanskrit. Sanatan is against equality and social justice and nothing else,” he said.
Meanwhile, DMK leader R S Bharathi said, “They are misinterpreting the speech made by Udhayanidhi Stalin because he is the last person to do that and we don’t believe in genocide."
Sack Udhayanidhi: BJP
Union Minister and BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje demanded that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin should immediately sack Udhayanidhi. Speaking to reporters, Karandlaje said, “Chief Minister Stalin's son talking like this... we felt very sad. Our country is connected to religion and temples. He (Udhayanidhi) holds a responsible position and his father is chief minister... " And, sheWhat is he speaking? What does he think?”
(With agency inputs)