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Not fair! Sita fails govt agni pariksha

The birthplace of Sita "is a matter of faith and not based on any evidence", the Narendra Modi government has said, prompting accusations of gender discrimination against the wife of Ram.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 13.04.17
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New Delhi, April 12: The birthplace of Sita "is a matter of faith and not based on any evidence", the Narendra Modi government has said, prompting accusations of gender discrimination against the wife of Ram.

The declaration - ironical for a government at least one of whose ministers has said she is ready to hang for the sake of a Ram temple at his "birthplace" - came in Parliament today in response to a question from BJP MP Prabhat Jha.

"Whether central government has any historical proof regarding Ramayana-era birthplace of Sita at Sitamarhi, Bihar?" Jha had asked.

In his written answer, culture minister Mahesh Sharma said the birthplace of Sita is a "matter of faith and not based on any evidence". Answering a supplementary question by Jha, the minister verbally said that Sita was born in Punaradham, about 4km from Sitamarhi. The place has been included as part of the Ramayan Circuit project for promotion.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh was quick to protest.

"I condemn what has been said in the (written) reply about my revered Lord Ram's wife, Mata Sita. You use Ram Setu and Ram Temple issue to reach here. But you are saying Mata Sita is a matter of faith and that there is no proof," Singh said.

The BJP had come to power at the Centre in 1996 for the first time, riding the Ram temple movement. Senior party leaders continue to insist on building a Ram temple at the site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid stood, arguing that this is where Ram was born. Union minister Uma Bharti has said she is ready to hang for the sake of the temple at his birthplace.

"Do you have proof that Sita, daughter of King Janak, selected Ram as her husband through swaymavara," Singh asked.

Sharma said no excavation work has been conducted by the archaeological department. Hence the answer to the question about proof is in the negative.

JDU leader Anil Kumar Sahani said this was an insult.

"Sita's name is always taken before Ram. The archaeological department has slighted Goddess Sita because she is a woman. She has been insulted," Sahani said.

Amid the questions and answers, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury stood up to say: "I am Sitaram Yechury". Chairman Hamid Ansari responded: "You can be proud of your name".