• Sunday, September 24, 2023

INDIA

‘Sanatan Dharma’ row will not affect opposition in polls, says Karnataka IT minister who backed controversial remark

Priyank Kharge said the country’s Constitution was his religion and he did not care about the FIR filed against him.

Priyank Kharge, IT minister of the Indian state of Karnataka. (Picture: X screengrab/@ANI)

By: Shubham Ghosh

DAYS after a first information report (FIR) was registered against him along with his Tamil Nadu counterpart Udhayanidhi Stalin over the controversial remarks made on ‘Sanatan Dharma’ (eternal religion), Priyank Kharge, the information technology minister of the southern Indian state of Karnataka on Thursday (7) clarified his statement saying he follows the country’s Constitution and did not intend to hurt anybody’s sentiments.

Speaking to reporters at The Taj in state capital Bengaluru where he was present as the chief guest at an event announcing major technological partnerships between Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems with India, Kharge said his statement was not against any religion and that the Constitution was his religion.

“My statement was not against any religion. I said that any religion that discriminates between human beings is not a religion. I follow the Constitution, my religion is the Constitution. If they want to file an FIR against me or they want to arrest me, it is up to the individuals, I really don’t care,” the minister, who is the son of Mallikarjun Kharge, president of India’s opposition Indian National Congress, told Asian News International.

The 44-year-old minister also lashed out at India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party accusing it of twisting his statement and said they don’t understand the language and can file the FIR.

“These people do not understand Kannada, Hindi or English. All I have said is that the Constitution is my religion. Does the BJP have a problem with it? Let them file as many FIRs as they want, they are free to do so,” Kharge said.

The Indian National Congress leader, however, did not feel that the ongoing controversy over the ‘Sanatan Dharma’ remark will have any adverse effect on the newly formed INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) in the upcoming elections.

“No, there will not be any effect for this,” he told India Weekly when this publication asked about it. He did not want to give more details.

A number of constituent parties of the INDIA bloc which looks to challenge prime minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in a string of upcoming elections were found to be uncomfortable over the controversy.

The controversy started after Stalin, a leader of Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which has deep roots in the Self-Respect Movement started by Indian social activist and politician EV Ramasamy ‘Periyer’, said last week that ‘Sanatan Dharma’ is like diseases such as malaria and dengue and should be eradicated.

A few days later, he also said that not inviting the Indian president, who is a tribal woman, for the inauguration of the new parliament building, was an example of the alleged caste discrimination by ‘Sanatan Dharma’.

Stalin was booked also under sections 153A and B, 295A, 298 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code.

Modi reacted to the row on Wednesday (6) asking his ministers to give a proper response to the controversy.

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