Rahul Gandhi today stepped in with a clarification and a rebuke for senior Congress leader CP Joshi after a controversy over his comment that “only Brahmins know enough to talk about Hinduism”. CP Joshi duly apologized in a tweet.
“CP Joshi’s comments are against the Congress party’s principles. No party leader should make statements that hurt any section of the society,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted in swift damage control. Asking Mr Joshi to apologise, the Congress president added: “I am sure Joshiji has realized his mistake in view of the Congress’s beliefs and workers’ sentiment.”
Mr Joshi did apologise, using almost the same words: “Out of respect for the Congress’s beliefs and workers’ sentiment, I apologise if my comments hurt any section of the society.”
Mr Joshi, a former union minister and a senior Congress leader contesting next month’s polls in Rajasthan, had been caught making the comments in a video tweeted by a BJP lawmaker.
He was lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Uma Bharti while campaigning in Rajasthan’s Nathdwara for the December 7 state election.
“Uma Bharti is a Lodhi, and she talks about Hinduism, Modi ji talks about Hinduism. It’s only Brahmins who don’t talk about it. In 50 years they have lost their mind. The country is being misled… Religion and governance are two different things. Everyone has the right to practice their religion,” Mr Joshi says in the video.
“They say a Congress leader can’t be a Hindu. Who gave them the authority to issue certificates? Have they opened a university? If anyone knows about religion in this country then its pandits, brahmins,” he says.
The video was tweeted by BJP legislator Harsh Sanghavi, who commented: “Shameful statement by Congress Leader CP Joshi. Implies what does a lower caste person like Modi know about Hinduism as only Brahmins are true custodians of Hinduism !”
Alleging fabrication of his comments, Mr Joshi later tweeted his own clip of the video and wrote: “I strongly condemn the fabricated use of my statement by BJP.”
The Congress sees a good chance of snatching Rajasthan from the BJP, on the back of anti-incumbency sentiment. This is not the first embarrassing video it has confronted in its campaign for Rajasthan and three other states. Earlier this week, the party’s Madhya Pradesh chief Kamal Nath was caught on video apparently saying if Muslims didn’t vote en masse for the Congress, it is doomed.