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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

‘Congress should have welcomed Rafale’: Rajnath Singh on shastra puja row

Congress leader Malikarjun Kharge had criticised Rajnath Singh for performing shastra puja on the Rafale aircraft after he took delivery of the first of the 36 warplanes in France on October 8.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2019 14:52 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said statements by Congress leaders criticising the government on the Rafale air craft only strengthened Pakistan.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said statements by Congress leaders criticising the government on the Rafale air craft only strengthened Pakistan.(ANI)
         

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday attacked the Congress after Mallikarjun Kharge criticised him for performing shashtra puja (weapons worship) when he took delivery of the first Rafale aircraft in France on October 8.

“I wrote ‘Om’ on fighter plane (Rafale) and tied a ‘raksha bandhan’ to it. Congress leaders started a controversy here...They should have welcomed that Rafale is coming here. Instead, they started criticising. Statements by Congress leaders only strengthen Pakistan,” Singh said at an election rally in Haryana’s Karnal without taking Kharge’s name, ANI reported.

The defence minister performed shastra puja at the Rafale aircraft’s induction ceremony in keeping with the Hindu tradition of warriors worshipping their weapons on Dussehra. October 8 is also the foundation day of the India Air Force.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had described Singh shastra puja as a “tamasha” (drama) and said that his party never did such a thing when it bought 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.

Kharge’s comment also drew fire from the BJP. “For a party used to worshipping Quattrocchi, ‘shastra puja’ is naturally a problem,” the BJP said in a tweet referring to the Bofors bribery scandal.

Kharge had also upset another Congress leader - Sanjay Nirupam who said 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, said.