Samajwadi Party MP links Hindu gods to alcohol, apologizes after uproar

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New Delhi: A controversial remark by a Samajwadi Party (SP) leader against Hindu gods on July 19 triggered uproar in the Rajya Sabha, forcing its two adjournments before he expressed regret.
SP leader Naresh Agrawal made the comment while participating in a short duration debate on ‘rising incidents of lynching and atrocities on minorities and dalits across the country’.
The comment triggered an uproar as the ruling party members said he had hurt religious feelings of the majority of people and this also was “lynching”. They insisted that he should apologize.
“He has linked each of the Hindu Gods with a brand of alcohol. If he would have made this statement outside Parliament, he would’ve been booked. Do you have the audacity of repeating this in relation to any other religious denomination? Would you do this?” said Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, demanding an apology.
After two adjournments, when the House re-assembled, Agrawal said he did not intend to hurt sentiments of anyone.
“If someone has been hurt, I express my regret,” the SP member said.
Later, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien ruled that part of Agrawal’s remarks had been expunged and asked the media to guard against using these.
Seeking apology, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said, “He cannot hurt the sentiments of the majority people who are Hindus. He cannot hold the House to ransom.”
BJP member Bhupender Yadav said, “In this House, no member should hurt the feelings of others. This is also lynching.”
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury tried to intervene, saying the matter should be allowed to rest.
Amid slogans like “Bhagwan ka apman nahi chalega (insult to the God will not be allowed)”, “Sri Ram ka apman nahi chalega (insult to the God will not be allowed)” and “Apne devo ka apman nahi sahega Hindustan (India will not tolerate insult to its deities).”
Ram Gopal Yadav, another party leader of the SP, said Agrawal will not tender apology even if the entire session has to function like this. Naresh Gujral (SAD) suggested sending the issue to the Privileges Committee of the Rajya Sabha for a decision on it.
Anand Sharma (Cong) said the Gods belong to all and not only to the ruling party members. He said the ruling party should not become the “custodians of God”.
He said last year, during the JNU agitation, a Cabient Minister had made certain “derogatory” remarks against Goddess Durga and refused to apologize.
He said the issue pertained to faith of all and urged for a solution to it. However, the ruling party members continued to raise slogans and the Chair adjourned the House till 4 pm.
Agrawal then expressed regret and said in his entire political career, he has never hurt sentiments of any caste and religion.

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