| Jagdish Tytler (centre) at a recent meeting in Bhubaneswar. Telegraph picture |
Bhubaneswar, March 29: In his desperation to wriggle out of the political storm over his recent trip to the Jagannath temple in Puri, Delhi strongman and Congress leader Jagdish Tytler today asserted that he was a “true Hindu”.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), however, did not want to let go of this opportunity to attack the Congress. Shifting focus from the raging controversy over Tytler’s religious identity, the BJD today chose to attack the Congress leader in charge of Orissa for his alleged involvement in the anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.
“I am a true Hindu and I have never converted to Christianity,” Tytler told mediapersons soon after he arrived in the city to address party workers today.
The Congress leader said he had visited the Jagannath temple in Puri four times. “But for the first time in my life, somebody raised silly questions about my religious identity,” he said.
In a bid to clear the confusion over his surname, Tytler said he had changed his surname to that of J.D. Tytler, who had brought him up.
The ruling BJD members in the state Assembly had raised objections to the entry of the Congress leader in the temple. Speaker Pradeep Amat had directed law minister Bikram Kesari Arukh to make a statement on the issue.
The All India Congress Committee leader, who took charge of the party’s Orissa affairs recently, alleged that BJD had raised such questions about his religious identity to create confusion in the citizens’ mind since he had made several corruption charges against the Naveen Patnaik government during his last visit to the state.
“This shows how petty they are,” he said.
Stating that Tytler’s visit to Jagannath temple, which is out of bounds for non-Hindus, has caused resentment among the priests and local resident, the ruling party MLAs had demanded a statement from Arukh yesterday.
The controversy continued to rock the House even today. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh said Tytler had visited Jagannath temple on March 16.
“Suddenly after 12 days, it strangely struck to them (BJD members) that he is a non-Hindu and they played politics in the name of Lord Jagannath,” said Singh.
“It’s unfortunate that the BJD, which claims to be a secular party, is playing politics in the name of religion,” he said.
Shifting their focus of attack today, BJD legislators today highlighted Tytler’s alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Senior BJD legislator Pradeep Maharathy said family members of 12 victims of 1984 riots had filed review petitions against Tytler in the court.
He also claimed that the Congress leader had converted to Christianity. Maharathy was supported by his party colleagues and BJP legislator and former minister Jaynarayan Mishra. Mishra dubbed Tytler as an “anti-Hindu”. The House witnessed uproarious scenes with loud protest from the Congress members.
Normalcy was restored in the House after Amat advised the members to wait for the law minister’s statement on the matter.