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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

A Congress vs Congress war breaks out over Rajnath Singh’s shastra puja on Rafale jet

This prompted veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge to call it a “tamasha (drama)” who also compared it to how his own party never did such a thing when buying weapons. But, his party colleague Sanjay Nirupam differed, said “Shastra puja cannot be called a tamasha.”

india Updated: Oct 09, 2019 16:58 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performed a ‘Shastra puja’ on Rafale jet.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performed a ‘Shastra puja’ on Rafale jet.(ANI Photo)
         

A day after defence minister Rajnath Singh performed Shastra Puja on the newly-minted Rafale fighter jet in France, a war of words broke out on Wednesday in the main opposition Congress whose leaders sparred over the need for such a ritual.

After France on Tuesday handed over to India its first Rafale fighter jet as part of a Rs 59,000-crore deal for 36 warplanes, Defence minister Rajnath Singh performed “shastra puja” at the induction ceremony in line with the Hindu tradition of warriors worshipping their weapons and arms on Dussehra. The minister wrote “Om” on the jet’s nose and placed a coconut, a laddoo and flowers on its front section as part of the ritual. The planes will fly into India only next year.

This prompted veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge to call it a “tamasha (drama)” who also compared it to how his own party never did such a thing when buying weapons.

“There is no need to do such ‘tamasha’. When we bought weapons — like the Bofors gun — no one went and brought them while showing off,” said Kharge.

But, his party colleague Sanjay Nirupam differed. “Shastra puja cannot be called a tamasha. There has been an old tradition of ‘shastra puja’ in our country. The problem is that Kharge Ji is an atheist. In the Congress party, not everyone is an atheist,” the leader from Maharashtra, who had quit Shiv Sena to join Congress in 2005, said.

Home Minister Amit Shah also criticised the Congress for raking up the controversy saying the grand old party should introspect the things that need to be criticised.

“Rajnath Singh performed ‘shashtra puja’ of Rafale yesterday in France. The Congress did not like it. Is ‘shashtra pujan’ not performed on Vijayadashami? They should ponder over what needs to be criticised and what not,” said Amit Shah during a rally in Kaithal, Haryana. The state of Haryana goes to polls on October 21.

The Congress, led by its then chief Rahul Gandhi, had severly criticised the Rafale deal in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in May. The Congress had claimed that there was corruption in the Rafale deal and alleged that the cost of 36 Rafale aircraft finalised by the Narendra Modi government was higher than that negotiated by the previous UPA government.

First Published: Oct 09, 2019 16:49 IST

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