Congress slams Rafale’s shastra puja by Rajnath Singh
NEW DELHI : Defence Minister Rajnath Singh received the first unit of Indian Air Force’s Rafale fighter jet from France on Tuesday. The long-awaited French-made aircraft was acquired by the Indian Air Force at a handover ceremony in Merignac where Rajnath Singh performed a shastra puja on Rafale as he emblazoned it with an ‘Om’.
Shastra puja, the weapons’ worship as part of Dussehra celebrations, however, has now come under criticism with the Opposition slamming the BJP-led government for giving a religious spin to the handover ceremony.
Accusing the Narendra Modi government of saffronising the Rafale handover, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit asked, “This religious context of Vijayadashami and the Rafale aircraft doesn’t match. A festival that all of us celebrate, why should it be linked it with an aircraft?”
The Congress leader said the defence forces should have received the Rafale and not Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. “This is the whole problem with this government. They dramatise everything without any substantive work,” Sandeep Dikshit said.
Former AAP leader Alka Lamba, who recently joined the Congress, also hit out at the government over shastra puja of Rafale. “If former Defence Minister AK Antony would have been the Minister of Defence or former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had this fortune today, what would have happened had they taken the Bible or Quran as per their religion like Rajnath Singh?” Alka Lamba wrote on Twitter.
Alka Lamba also went on to mock Rajnath Singh as she tweeted a photo of lemons placed under the wheels of the jet. “France made Rafale has not even reached India and India has already achieved its first major success by squashing two green lemons and saved the country from the eyes of the evil.”
A tweet from an unverified account of Delhi Congress’s social media & IT head, Sameer Hoda, asked, “Why not buy a lemon in the first to protect the Country and save all the money.” The shastra puja of the Rafale has also come under criticism on social media with several users mocking Rajnath Singh with hashtag Rafale Puja Politics.
Twitter user Shalini asked why central government was following only Hindu practices? Congress had derided it as “tamasha”(drama) and “superstition”
Congress is used to worshipping alleged Bofors middleman, BJP retorted Union minister Rajnath Singh’s “Shastra puja” in front of the first Rafale fighter jet handed over by France on Tuesday has generated a debate. While the Congress has slammed it as “tamasha”(drama) and “superstition”, Mr Singh’s cabinet colleague and BJP chief Amit Shah has lashed out, questioning the Congress’s choice of issues to criticise the BJP.
The BJP also said the Congress is used to worshipping Ottavio Quattrocchi, the alleged middleman in the Bofors deal. Congress Sanjay Nirupam joined the fray, calling his own party’s critics “atheists”. On Tuesday, after taking the formal handover of the first of the 36 Rafale jets in France, Rajnath Singh had performed a “Shastra puja” the traditional veneration of weapons on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami.
In front of the gathering, he wrote the Sanskrit word “Om” on the body of the aircraft, sprinkled it with flowers and offered up a coconut. Finally, he placed a lime in front of the wheels — a practice meant to ward off evil — before flying off on a sortie in the jet.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge called it a “tamasha” (drama), pointing out that the Congress made no such display when the Bofors guns were purchased. “There is no need to do such ”tamasha”. When we bought weapons like the Bofors gun previously purchased, no one went and brought them while showing off,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The BJP, taking a dig at the Congress over the Bofors deal made by the government headed by former Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi’s husband Rajiv Gandhi, said they are used to worshipping Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian national, who was one of the alleged middlemen in the deal.
Union minister Amit Shah lashed out at the Congress, pointing out that Shastra puja is a long-held tradition in the country. “Is ‘Shashtra Puja’ not performed on Vijayadashami? I want to tell them (the Congress) — ‘Think about what should be opposed and what not’,” he said.(With Agency Inputs ).