Bageshwar Dham chief saying "India—a Hindu rashtra" has no value: Nitish Kumar
Mahagathbandhan parties Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal responded tersely to the religious preacher for calling India a "Hindu rashtra". BJP stood up for the controversial Baba Bageshwar
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday reacted sharply to self-styled godman Baba Bageshwar's comments on making India a "Hindu rashtra [Hindu nation]".
He said that these comments had no value, as they were made by those who had no knowledge of the country's freedom struggle or the Constitution.
Recently Dhirendra Shastri, the leader of Bageshwar Dham—a pilgrimage site in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh—said that India has already become a Hindu nation, and only the announcement of it is left.
"One day a saint told me that I am advocating for the Hindu nation, how is it possible? I replied to him that India is already a Hindu nation and its announcement will be made soon," Shastri told a religious congregation in Patna.
"Those who are talking about such things were not born when the country became independent and the Constitution was implemented. Would they change the name of the country?" said Nitish Kumar after the inauguration of the transport department's new building in Patna.
"People like [Baba Bageshwar] are talking on his own and it has no value. We believe in the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, and leaders who worked with him... It is surprising that some people are speaking for the Hindu nation. What is the need of it? Everyone has the right to follow their respective religions; there is no hurdle in it," he added.
"We have seven communities in the country—Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains—and people of these communities have equal rights as per the Constitution," Kumar went on.
Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal national president Lalu Prasad Yadav said that Baba Bageshwar is not a seer.
"I refuse to accept that he is a Baba," Yadav said.
His elder son Tej Pratap Yadav and party state president Jagada Nand Singh also reacted sharply to Shastri calling India a Hindu nation.
Environment and forest minister Tej Pratap Yadav said, "I don't know this Baba-Aaba-Dhaba...The event of Dhirendra Shastri is politically motivated. He is talking about breaking the country."
RJD leader Jagada Nand Singh said: "The way a mountebank attracts people of the village through playing drums, Shastri is doing the same. He is an enemy of the country who is talking against the Constitution of the country. The way mountebanks are fooling people in villages, Bageshwar Baba is doing the same here...People are getting foolish. Cheating is the profession of such babas. They do not allow people to get educated..."
BJP leaders, on the other hand, have welcomed religious congregation led by Baba Bageshwar in Patna. Several BJP leaders were seen performing aarti with the controversial Baba on Sunday. BJP MP Manoj Tiwari, Ramkripal Yadav, and former union minister Ravishankar Prasad even attended the congregation and showered praise on Baba for his pravachan (sermon).
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