Soren in soup over his remarks on saffron robes

Soren in soup over his remarks on saffron robes

Hemant Soren. PTI file photo

The Jharkhand Mukti Morchas (JMM) working president Hemant Soren has kicked up a controversy after he alleged that people wearing saffron robes were robbing women of their honour with the BJP hitting back with a complaint with the Election Commission.

Jharkhand Chief Electoral Officer Vinay Kumar Choubey said on Thursday the poll panel has sought a report and CD (of the speech) from Deputy Commissioners of Pakur and Sahibganj districts following the complaint lodged with it by the BJP.

The public meeting was held at Gumani in Bararwaha block of Sahibganj district, which falls in Pakur assembly constituency. Therefore, the CEO has sought CD and reports from both Pakur and Sahibganj DCs. Addressing an election rally in Pakur assembly segment on Wednesday, the former chief minister also alleged that "a rapist in Uttar Pradesh is resting in hospital while his victim is in jail".

"Nowadays, women are being set on fire. I got the information that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi (Adityanath) ji has been making rounds here (in Santhal Pargana)," Soren said. A video footage of Soren's purported speech at the Pakur rally is run on TV channels and the BJP along with its complaint gave a pendrive containing the JMM leader's speech to the EC. Soren added, "ye woh log hain, Bhajpa ke log, jo sadi kam karte hain lekin gerua vastra pehan kar bahu-betiyon ki izzat lutne ka kaam karte hain. (These are BJP people who seldom marry but wearing saffron robes rob women of their honour). "Do you want to vote for such people," Soren asked the people while appealing to vote for the JMM/Congress/RJD alliance in the fifth and final phase of polling on December 20.

Soon after Soren's speech, the Jharkhand unit of the BJP in Ranchi lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, demanding action against Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Soren in connection with the 'hurtful' comments on Hindu religion by the JMM leader.

In its letter, the BJP alleged that Sorens "inciting" speech hurt the sentiments of not only people of Jharkhand but crores of Hindus in the country. "Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi (Vadra), who was on stage had neither prevented Soren from making the controversial speech nor condemned it publicly," it said and urged the Chief Electoral Officer to book them in treason case and punish them, "so that no other leader from Congress or JMM will speak such hurtful words on religion in future".

Priyanka Vadra had addressed the rally after Soren in Pakur. "We have asked the DCs of Pakur and Sahibganj to send report and CD (of the speech)," Jharkhand's CEO told reporters when asked about the BJPs complaint against Soren.

The JMM General Secretary Suprio Bhattacharya defended Sorens remarks at a press meet, alleging "Asharam Bapu to Kuldip Sengar to Chinmayanand to Narayan Sahi and Swami Nithyananda wear saffron and the country knows what they have done".

"Hemant ji, who himself was wearing a saffron shirt while he addressed the meeting (in Pakur), only expressed fear that it has become a challenge to protect mothers and sisters from saffron-clad people...we too wear saffron while offering puja and our (election symbol) bow and arrow are Lord Ramas favourite," Bhattacharya said. "It is incorrect to relate the matter to any religion, Bhattacharya said, adding "We too are Hindus and wear saffron during puja."

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