Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday condemned senior leader CP Joshi’s remark that only Brahmins have the right to speak about Hinduism. Joshi is contesting the Rajasthan Assembly elections, scheduled for December 7, from Nathdwara constituency.
“CP Joshi’s statement is against the principles of the Congress party,” Gandhi tweeted. “Party leaders should not make statements which hurt the sentiments of any class of society. Joshi must be aware of his mistake. He should express regret for his statement.”
In a video shared by Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Harsh Sanghavi on Thursday, Joshi is heard saying: “If anyone knows about religion in this country, it is the pandit [Brahmin]. It is strange that [BJP leader] Uma Bharti, who is from the Lodhi caste, is talking about Hinduism. The Sadhvi, who is of some other caste, is talking about Hinduism. [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi belongs to some caste, he’s talking about Hinduism.”
Though the Congress leader used the term “religion” while referring to Modi, he is perhaps referring to caste, as in the first instance in which he mentioned Uma Bharti.
Joshi, following Gandhi’s recommendation, expressed regret for his remarks in a tweet on Friday. However, he claimed the BJP had made “fabricated use” of his speech. “To put all the speculations to rest, here is enclosed the clipping of the speech,” he added, sharing a Facebook link to a video.
However, the BJP rejected Joshi’s apology and said Gandhi must take responsibility and express regret, PTI reported. “The statement of Congress leader [Joshi] is baseless, wrong and condemnable,” said BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi at a press conference in Delhi. “It reflects that the Congress doesn’t know the history of Indian culture and Hindu religion.”
“We don’t want his [Joshi’s] apology... Rahul Gandhi should take responsibility and apologise for the remarks,” Trivedi said.
BJP leader Sambit Patra said Gandhi should remove Joshi from the party. “Congress leaders discuss things behind closed doors and it gets recorded,” Patra said, according to ANI. “When they get exposed, they ask people to apologise. Rahul Gandhi, you have been caught red-handed. You should immediately sack CP Joshi, sack him within one hour.”
On Wednesday, Joshi had told News18 that only a Congress government can build the Ram temple in Ayodhya. “It was [former Prime Minister] Rajiv Gandhi who opened the locks of the Babri Masjid premises and allowed religious rites inside the disputed structure,” he said. “Only a Congress prime minister can get the temple built.”