Varanasi: Firebrand BJP leader Yogi Adityanath has stoked a controversy with his remarks that those opposing 'surya namaskar' should "drown in the sea".
With certain minority groups protesting against inclusion of 'Surya namaskar' exercise during the June 21 International Yoga Day celebrations, the Gorakhpur MP said, "Sun is the source of life giving energy. Whoever thinks Sun is communal, I would like to humbly request them to drown themselves in the sea or they should stay in a dark cell."
"Sun God has never deprived anyone of its light based on caste, creed or religion. Despite that if they are calling sun communal, I feel amused at their mindset," said the BJP leader yesterday at a religious event in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency.
"And my request to them would be that they should not take the sunlight or even its warmth," said the saffron-clad leader, who is known for courting controversy with his inflammatory remarks.
Adityanath's remarks came after the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board said that it will move the Supreme Court against inclusion of Surya namaskar and Yoga in schools.
Congress and Samajwadi Party hit out the BJP leader, saying he was trying to create a communal divide, and stressed that nobody can force their own belief system on any citizen.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah mocked Adityanath's remarks saying many people "will have to pack" their bags.
Congress leader Rita Bahuguna said, "Every time he (Adityanath) speaks, he spits venom. He tries to create a communal divide by giving communal statements. What is the reason to say that those who don't want to do this should leave the country?
"Talking about certain communities that have certain reservations about some parts of yoga, what is the use? It is an exercise for physical and mental well-being. Those who don't want to do it should be allowed not to do it."
SP's Gaurav Bhatia recalled that the Prime Minister had recently told his partymen that such statements will not be tolerated.
"And again we hear the habitual offender Yogi Adityanath making such a statement. In our country everyone has the right to profess his religion, to have his own belief system and no body can force his own belief system on any citizen," he said.
Reacting to Adityanath's remarks, Omar said on Twitter, "The solution to overcrowding in India since so many of us will have to pack our bags. Ek teer do shikar (killing two birds with one stone)."