Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday apologised for a social media post about reinforcing the caste hierarchy.
The now-deleted tweet, posted on Tuesday, had quoted a verse from the Bhagavad Gita that referred to the “natural duties” of the Vaishyas and Shudras. Sarma said that the verse had been translated incorrectly.
A Hindi translation of the verse said: “Agriculture, cow-rearing and trade are the natural duties of Vaishyas, while serving Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas is the natural duty of a Shudra”.
The tweet had been criticised by Opposition leaders, including those from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.
On Thursday, Sarma said that he deleted the tweet as soon as he noticed that the quote was not translated properly.
“Recently one of my team members posted a sloka from Chapter 18 verse 44 with an incorrect translation,” Sarma said in a tweet. “As soon as I noticed the mistake, I promptly deleted the post. The state of Assam reflects a perfect picture of a casteless society, thanks to the reform movement led by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva. If the deleted post has offended anyone, I sincerely apologize.”
Soon after Sarma had posted the tweet on Tuesday, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had accused the Bharatiya Janata Party leader of encouraging casteism.
“We strongly denounce Assam CM Himanta Biswas’ tweet claiming that ‘Shudras are to serve Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas’,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said in a tweet. “BJPs Manuvadi ideology in full play.”
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Lok Sabha MP Asaduddin Owaisi had said that Sarma was not fulfilling his oath of treating every Indian citizen equally.
“Holding a constitutional position, your oath is to treat every citizen equally,” Owaisi said in a tweet. “It’s reflected in the unfortunate cruelty that Assam’s Muslims have faced in the past few years. Hindutva is antithetical to Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice.”