Bihar Education Minister and senior Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Chandrashekhar has triggered a controversy by stating that the Ramcharitmanas, an epic poem based on the Ramayana, Manusmriti, an ancient Sanskrit text, and Bunch of Thoughts, authored by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue M.S. Golwalkar, “spread hatred in society”.
“It is mentioned in the Ramcharitmanas that people from the lower caste become poisonous if education is imparted to them. Manusmriti, Ramcharitmanas and Bunch of Thoughts have sowed the seeds of hatred and division in society,” Mr. Chandrashekhar said while addressing the 15th convocation ceremony of Nalanda Open University on Wednesday.
His statement has drawn the ire of Bharatiya Janata Party leaders who have demanded that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar sack Mr. Chandrashekhar for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. Mr. Kumar, who is in Darbhanga district as part of his State-wide mass outreach programme, Samadhan Yatra, said he was not aware of the controversy. “I don’t know anything about this matter,” he told journalists.
However, Mr. Chandrashekhar said on Thursday that he stood by his statement and won’t retract it. “Let them award ₹10 crore to chop off my tongue. At least someone will become rich. I stick to my statement. I have said nothing wrong and I am not scared of anyone,” he said, alluding to Ayodhya seer Jagadguru Paramhans’s announcement of a reward of ₹10 crore to anyone who chops off the Minister’s tongue if he fails to issue an apology.
Demanding the Minister’s removal from the State Cabinet, Union Minister and Buxar MP Ashwini Choubey said, “He is an uneducated person and has no right to remain the Education Minister.” Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Vijay Kumar Sinha sought the filing of an FIR against Mr. Chandrashekhar for “hurting the sentiments of crores of Hindus”.
BJP MLA Haribhushan Thakur Bachaul alleged that the statement was made to please people associated with the banned outfit, the Popular Front of India. “He wants to convert India into an Islamic country. That is the reason why he has insulted our religious books,” he said.
Former Aam Aadmi Party leader and poet Kumar Vishwas also termed the statement “unfortunate and unpleasant” and demanded the Minister’s sacking if he fails to apologise.