Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday took to Twitter to ask people not to show disrespect to the naked monk, who had delivered a special lecture inside the Haryana assembly on Friday.
Although, the Haryana government’s decision to invite a religious guru to deliver speech inside the House caused a huge social media outrage with prominent people describing the development as ‘regressive’.
Music director and known Kejriwal supporter, Vishal Dadlani, posted a series of tweets describing the decision as ‘nonsense’.
It is these tweets that later prompted the Delhi chief minister to come to the defence of known Jain spiritual guru, Tarun Sagar, also known as the ‘naked monk’.
In his tweets, Kejriwal said that he and his family held the Jain guru in high esteem and urged people to stop showing disrespect to him.
He wrote, “Tarun Sagar ji Maharaj is a very revered saint, not just for jains but everyone. Those showing disrespect is unfortunate and shud stop. I met Shri Tarun Sagar ji Maharaj last year. Our family regularly listens to his discourses on TV. We deeply respect him and his thoughts.”
Kejriwal’s cabinet colleague, Satyendra Jain, too made a statement on Twitter and apologized on behalf of his ‘friend’ Dadlani.
Faced with what appeared to be snowballing into a huge controversy, Dadlani issued an apology before announcing that he was quitting politics and any political affiliations. This was because, as explained by the celebrated music director, he abhorred the idea of mixing religion and governance.
But not everyone like Kejriwal appears convinced about Tarun Sagar being an apolitical religious leader or his teachings. Many social media users have been fervently posting tweets reminding Kejriwal about Sagar’s controversial statements.
Noted among them, are his comments on role of wife, Love Jihad and Islam’s alleged connection with terrorism.
In May 2015, the Jain spiritual guru had kicked up a massive row by his comments on Love Jihad. Describing Love Jihad an attempt to convert Hindus of India to Islam. He went on to add that India was in danger of becoming Pakistan if the law enforcing agencies did not stop this immediately.
The Muslim seminary Darul Uloom had reacted angrily to Sagar’s comments and even likened them to hate speech.
Sagar’s comments made in Meerut, came after the BJP had unsuccessfully fought crucial assembly bypolls in Uttar Pradesh using what many termed was the bogey of love jihad. The saffron party had made the imaginary conversions of Hindu girls by their Muslim lovers a big poll issue but had miserably failed to extract electoral mileage out of it.
Contrary to his perception of being an inclusive saint, Sagar is also known to hold strong views that propagate the theory ‘all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.’ This is the analogy the BJP leaders often used for a long time until the culprits of Malegaon, Mecca Masjid and Samjhauta Express hit the headlines highlighting the alleged involvement of what came to be known as ‘Hindu terrorists.’
This prompted the BJP leaders to then perform quite a stunning U-turn by issuing homily that terror suddenly had no religion.
Sagar, once again while in Haryana as the BJP government’s state guest in May this year, had said that whilst terrorists had no religion, a particular faith was producing terrorists.
In an indirect attack of Islam, Sagar had added that one must relinquish the religion that produced terrorists.
Whilst, mocking the beliefs of any faith is highly objectionable and must be condemned, promoting gurus by selectively inviting them to places of constitutional significance undermines our commitment to secularism and building a nation with pluralistic values.
Even worse is to glorify a baba such as Sagar, who’s clearly expressed his hatred for a particular religion on more than one occasion in the past.