Lucknow, Jan 23 (PTI) A day after Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya alleged that certain verses of the Ramcharitmanas promoted social discrimination, a section of party leaders on Monday opposed his remarks and said they will take the matter up with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav.
Maurya, who is considered a prominent OBC leader in Uttar Pradesh, had said certain portions of the Ramcharitmanas "insult" a large section of society on the basis of caste and demanded that these be "banned".
The ruling BJP in the state has demanded that he apologise and take back his statement. On Monday, while one of its leaders sent a copy of the Ramcharitmanas, a popular version of the Ramayana penned by poet Tulsidas, to Samajwadi Party (SP) president Yadav, another demanded a police case be registered against Maurya.
The SP's chief whip in the legislative assembly, Manoj Pandey, said the Ramcharitmanas is a "granth" (sacred text) that is not only read and followed by people in India but also abroad.
Maurya, a member of the legislative council, had said that "there are certain lines (in the Ramcharitmanas) in which names of castes such as 'teli' and 'kumhaar' are mentioned" and because of these "the feelings of lakhs of people hailing from these castes have been hurt".
"The Ramcharitmanas is a 'granth', which is not only read, followed and accepted by people in India, but also abroad," Pandey said disapproving of Maurya's remarks.
"The book teaches us moral values and the importance of relations be it of brothers, with parents, family or people. We respect not only the Ramcharitmanas but also the Bible, the Quran and the Guru Granth Sahib," the Unchahar MLA said.
They all teach people to take everyone along, Pandey said.
On whether he had informed Yadav about Maurya's remarks, he said, "It is in his knowledge. He is in Uttarakhand at present and we will meet him." Maurya had also said, "If there is any insult to a section of society due to certain lines in the Ramcharitmanas on the basis of 'jaati', 'varna' and 'varg', then it is certainly not 'dharma', it is 'adharma'." "The objectionable portions of the Ramcharitmanas that insult on the basis of 'jaati', 'varn' and 'varg' should be banned," he had said.
SP sources said Maurya's remarks have not gone down well with many party leaders and they feel such statements could create obstacles for a SP win in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
"We are not going to share anything with the media at the moment. Our leader (the SP president) will take an appropriate decision and such statements should be dealt with strictly," a party MLA, who did not want to be named, said.
On Maurya's remarks, SP MLA Ravidas Mehrotra said his statement is not the party's line and it may be his personal opinion.
"Everyone should shun such statements. It might be his personal statement but not the part line," Mehrotra said.
Terming Maurya's remarks as "indecent", BJP leader from Ayodhya Rajneesh Singh said he has sent a copy of the Ramcharitmanas by post to Yadav.
"I have sent a copy of the Ramcharitmanas to Akhilesh Yadav with the request that he should read it. If he is unable to understand it, then I can send seers from Ayodhya who can make him understand the Ramcharitmanas," he said in a statement.
"Because, if their (SP) leaders are making such indecent comments, then it also shows their unawareness towards the religious text," Singh said.
BJP leader Kumar Ashok Pandey in a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has demanded that a police case be registered against Maurya under Indian Penal Code sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).
In his letter, Ashok Pandey said, "Strict action must be initiated against him (Maurya). If it is not stopped now, then for the sake of cheap publicity, such leaders will continue to make remarks against Hinduism, due to which the law and order situation in the state may deteriorate." On Sunday, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary had said that Maurya should apologise and take back is statement.
State president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha Rishi Kumar Trivedi has submitted an application at the Hazratganj police station here, seeking a case against Maurya for his controversial comments. PTI NAV Maurya, who was a cabinet minister in the BJP government, had resigned and joined the SP before the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
He had contested from the Fazilnagar assembly seat in Kushinagar district but lost. But he was later sent to the legislative council by Yadav. PTI ABN SNS NAV ANB ANB