External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj came under the opposition fire on Monday for urging the Centre to declare the Bhagavad Gita as a national scripture and saying that only a formal announcement to this effect was pending.
Swaraj had made the comments at a public meeting to mark 5,151 years of the Gita, a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata, at the Red Fort on Sunday.
Her comment evoked sharp reactions from all sections of the opposition including the Bahujan Samaj Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Congress, Janata Dal (United), the Trinamool Congress as well as Left parties.
"People in our country practice different religions, she should not have given such a statement. Her comment is not right," said Mayawati.
AAP's Manish Sisodia said Sushma's call is an insult to the scripture.
"If they want the Gita to be announced as the national scripture, they are insulting Gita. The holy book is way above all this," said Sisodia.
"It is a dangerous, ideological position that the BJP is trying to impose on people. It is detrimental to the unity of nation," said Communist Party of India's D Raja.
Reacting to Swaraj's remark, Congress leader Manish Tewari said the essence of the Gita lies in its substance and not in its symbolism.
"So, if anybody has seriously read and internalise the teachings of the Gita they would not make such a frivolous statement," he said.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at Swaraj saying the Constitution was the "Holy Book" in a democracy.
"Our Constitution says India is a secular country. The Constitution is the Holy Book in a democracy," Banerjee told PTI.
"We respect all holy books equally. They are all our pride," Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress chief, said.
JD (U) president Sharad Yadav had dismissed Swaraj's comments as "rubbish", saying that "instead of focusing on the task of governance, the National Democratic Alliance leaders were raising mindless issues".
"PM Modi gifted the Gita to US President Barack Obama, which means it has already received the honour of a national scripture. What we require is only a formal announcement now," Swaraj had said.
Modi had also gifted the Gita to Japan PM Shinzo Abe and the Emperor of Japan during his five-day trip in September.