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Odisha minister sacked for ‘casteist’ remark against Brahmins

The 75-year-old BJD leader had said at a function in Malkangiri district that while tribals never ask for anything, Brahmins beg for alms.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2017 22:32 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Damodar Rout,BJD government,Biju Janata Dal
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik said he strongly disapproves of anyone who makes derogatory remarks against any caste, creed and religion.(PTI File)

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik removed agriculture minister Damodar Rout from the cabinet on Friday, two days after his remarks against Brahmins triggered a political controversy in the state.

“I strongly disapprove of anyone who makes derogatory remarks against any caste, creed and religion. I dismiss Dr Rout from the council of ministers. A letter has been sent this evening to the honourable governor, asking him to accept this dismissal,” Patnaik said.

The 75-year-old BJD leader had said at a function in Malkangiri district that while tribals never ask for anything, Brahmins beg for alms. Brahmin groups retaliated by burning him in effigy and even threatening to boycott rituals performed at his home.

The controversy forced Rout to apologise on Facebook, stating that his comments were misinterpreted. “The Brahmins belong to the upper caste in our religion. I have not insulted Brahmins, but said that their blessing is a virtue because they belong to a superior caste. We provide them with alms to earn virtue. Our culture instructs us to respect them. Am I not a part of the culture? A wrong message has been sent out due to political reasons,” he said.

This is not the first instance of Rout courting controversy. Last month, he enraged farmers by stating that those burning standing paddy crops due to pest attack will not be compensated. His statement allegedly mocking the suicide of Brunda Sahoo, a desperate farmer, also caused much embarrassment to the state government.

A case was lodged against the BJD leader in August 2010, after he referred to CPI parliamentarian Bibhu Prasad Tarai, party MLA Bishnu Das and additional district magistrate Upendra Mallik as “Harijans”.

First Published: Dec 22, 2017 22:32 IST