Mumbai, Oct 23: Union Minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday waded into the Sabarimala issue by asking if it was proper for anybody to desecrate a place of worship to justify the right to pray.
“It is plain common sense… Will you take sanitary napkins soaked in menstrual blood to a friend’s home? You will not. Do you think it is respectful to do the same when you enter the house of God?” Irani asked, speaking at an event..
Seeking to point out the difference, Irani said: “Everyone has the right to pray, but not to desecrate,” referring to a statement she had made recently after some woman threatened to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala with blood-soaked sanitary napkins.
Irani’s remarks came at a Young Thinkers’ Conference organized by the British Deputy High Commission and think-tank, Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
She made it clear that these were her personal views and as a cabinet minister, she would not comment on the Supreme Court’s recent verdict opening the Sabarimala Temple precincts to women of all ages.
After the Supreme Court ruling, the temple opened its doors on October 17, but shut down on Monday (Oct 22) following widespread protests and not permitting a single woman to enter the premises in the “banned” age group.
Prior to the apex court verdict, women in the menstruating age were only permitted till the base camp near the Pamba river, while men were allowed to continue the five-km long trek to the temple.
Drawing parallels, the Hindu-born Irani referred to her own marriage with a Parsi community man, (Zubin).
“I am a Hindu married to a Parsi, but I have ensured both my children practise Zorastrianism. Both have performed their Navjot ceremony. When I took by infant son to a fire temple (Agiary) in Andheri, I had to hand him to my husband. I was asked to go away from there,” she recounted.
Since then, Irani said as she is not allowed to accompany her husband and kids to any fire temple, she waits for them outside or in the car.
On the prospects of the Bharatiya Janata Party pushing the religious agenda in the 2019 elections, the minister said she “does not support populist rhetoric”.
“However, if there are schemes by implementation of which a majority of the population can benefit, it should not be targeted or sidelined or even demonized in any manner because it helps those who cannot help themselves,” Irani said.
She also discussed the achievements of the BJP government on various issues like the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, implementing difficult measures including the GST and Insolvency Code.