By: Shubham Ghosh
A bodybuilding competition featuring women in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh turned into a political slugfest in no time after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party which rules the states, and the opposition Indian National Congress tore into each other over alleged hurting of Hindu sentiments.
The controversy started after the scantily dressed women bodybuilders were seen posing on a stage during the contest in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh in front of a cut-out of Lord Hanuman, believed to the sport’s celibate patron deity.
Members of the opposition Congress sprinkled auspicious water from River Ganga on the cut-out and recited ‘Hanuman Chalisa’ to “purify” the venue after the event got over, the Press Trust of India reported.
The competition was organised by a committee featuring Ratlam’s mayor Prahlad Patel, who is from the BJP. The event’s patron was the local BJP lawmaker, Chaitanya Kashyap.
Local Congress leaders lashed out at Patel and Kashyap as soon as a video of the event went viral on social media, accusing them of “showcasing indecency”.
Another local Congress leader said the lord would punish those who were involved in the event.
Akhilesh Yadav, chief of Samajwadi Party and former chief minister of the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh, also criticised the BJP over the incident. In a tweet in Hindi, he asked the BJP not to humiliate religious statues.
भाजपाई धार्मिक मूर्तियों का अपमान न करें। pic.twitter.com/65MlHVQkb0
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) March 6, 2023
Madhya Pradesh state BJP spokesperson Hitesh Bajpai hit back at the opposition Congress saying it did not want to see women excel in sports. Some of the organisers even submitted a memorandum to the police, seeking action against the opposition leaders.
Piyush Babele, the media advisor of Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath, sought an apology from chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan alleging the event, which was held to mark the latter’s birthday on Sunday (5), was “disrespectful to Hindus and Lord Hanuman”.