A controversy erupted in Jharkhand on Wednesday after photos of the state education minister apparently paying floral tribute to former president APJ Abdul Kalam--who is still alive--went viral on social media, triggering demands of her resignation.
BJP minister Neera Yadav dismissed charges that she thought Kalam was dead, saying she was merely paying respect to the famous scientist by marking a Tilak on his forehead, and not garlanding his portrait, usually reserved for the deceased.
"Show me one photo or video in which I am garlanding the picture," Yadav said. She added, "I only did a tilak which is done to people who are alive."
But the Opposition was unimpressed as Congress leaders took to the streets and burnt effigies of Yadav, holding up images of the alleged tribute that had appeared in local newspapers.
"She should step down from her post. Even if she did not garland Kalam sahab's photo, why did she not ask the school administration to remove the garland," Congress leader Shamsher Alam said. The incident showed how ill-informed BJP ministers were, he added.
Yadav is a first time legislator, who won the Koderma assembly seat on a BJP ticket last year by defeating former social welfare minister, Annapurna Devi.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the second largest party in the assembly, said the BJP was risking the fate of the state's students by not terminating the education minister.