NCP MLA Jitendra Awhad has apologised for his comment on Lord Ram’s dietary habits that has caused a massive furore. Mr Awhad’s remark that “Lord Ram was a non-vegetarian” had drawn widespread condemnation from the right wing as well as devotees, many of whom are making a beeline for Ayodhya ahead of the inauguration of the Ram temple on January 22.
Since yesterday, many have sought legal action against the MLA, alleging that he has hurt religious sentiments. Others have hit the streets in protest.
“Look, I am telling you I did not bring my own interpretation or views into it. I did not incorporate any ideas of my own. I based my opinion on whatever is written in Valmiki Ramayana,” said the NCP leader, defending his remark at a press conference in Mumbai.
“I do express regret if my words offended someone’s feelings. I did not wish to hurt anyone’s sentiments,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Mr Awhad said he has an “authentic version” of the Ramayana, “written 1,800 years ago”.
“This book was printed in Kolkata in 1891. IIT Kanpur has even published a research paper on it. And what I said is already in the public domain,” the NCP leader added.
Stressing that he did not alter or misinterpret it, he outlined the six khands (chapters) of the ancient text — Balakand, Ayodhyakand, Aranyakand, Kishkindakhand, Sunderkand, and Yudhkand.
“Valmiki Ramayana has six khands. What does the 120th verse of the Ayodhya khand say? My remarks were based on the verses from Valmiki Ramayana. Please read the Valmiki Ramayana and you will know for yourself,” the NCP leader said.
“Lord Ram belongs to us, Bahujans. He used to hunt and eat animals. He is a Bahujan,” Mr Awhad, who belongs to the Sharad Pawar camp of the NCP, had said.
“They are trying to make everyone a vegetarian by giving Lord Ram’s example. But Lord Ram was not a vegetarian, he was a non-vegetarian. A person who has stayed in the forest for 14 years – where will he go to find vegetarian food?” Mr Awhad said, referring to the years Lord Ram spent in exile in the epic Ramayan.
His remarks had drawn a maelstrom protest from the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP, which gathered outside his Mumbai home and raised slogans against him yesterday night.
Led by BJP MLA Ram Kadam,they returned this morning with a poster of Mr Awhad, which they repeatedly hit with slippers. Mr Kadam said he has filed a complaint with the police against the NCP leader.
“It is their mindset to hurt the sentiments of the Ram bhakts. However, we won’t tolerate it if they make fun of our Sanatan Dharm for votes. The realisation of a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya doesn’t seem to have gone down well with the ghamandiya (arrogant) alliance,” Mr Kadam was quoted as saying by ANI.