Heated debates on the birthplace of Sita kept Parliamentarians busy in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The war of words between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party started with BJP leader Prabhat Jha’s query on “whether the central government has any historical proof regarding the Ramayana-era birthplace of Sita at Sitamarhi, Bihar?” In his reply, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma informed the House that the birthplace of Sita was a “matter of faith and not based on any evidence”.

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh then took it up on himself to display the double standards of the BJP, some of whose leaders have said they are ready to go to jail for the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Ayodhya case. However, Singh also added, “Lord Ram is my god. The minister’s reply has shaken my faith. I condemn his reply.”

Singh said said, “The Archaeological Survey of India has not carried out any excavations in the district of Sitamarhi so far, and hence it does not have any historical proof.” He added, “By saying that it is a matter of faith, is it implied that there is no proof... Does the government have proof of their [Rama and Sita’s] ‘swayamvar’?”

Janata Dal leader Anil Kumar Sahani claimed there was “gender discrimination” in the BJP’s stand about the issue. “Sita’s name is always taken before Ram,” Sahani said. “The archaeological department has slighted Goddess Sita because she is a woman. She has been insulted.”

In the midst of all the sparring about gender and religion, Left leader Sitaram Yechury inexplicably stood up and said, “I am Sitaram Yechury.” To this, House Chairman Hamid Ansari said, “You can be proud of your name.”

The BJP garnered massive support by keeping the Ram temple at the forefront of its agenda in the ’90s. Its senior leaders have continued to demand that this temple be built at the disputed site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid was demolished, insisting that that was where the Hindu god Ram was born.