Former Bihar Chief Minister and leader of Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday sparked controversy claiming that Ravan was an intellectual and Lord Ram was imaginary. Mr. Manji’s statement came after BJP MLAs recited Hanuman Chalisa on the floor of the House during the ongoing Budget session of Bihar Assembly.
Soon after the Assembly proceedings started, the BJP MLAs entered the well of the House and started chanting Hanuman Chalisa calling it Sankat (trouble) in the State under the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Reacting on the recitation of Hanuman Chalisa, Mr. Manjhi said,” The BJP MLAs should not recite Hanuman Chalisa in the Bihar legislative Assembly. Who said Ravan was Rakshas, I believe Ravan was intellectual and Ram was imaginary. Ravan was more hard working than Ram. Ramayan has been written by Tulsidas and Valmiki both, why Tulsidas Das’s is worshipped not Valmiki. Many brahmin scholars have also written that Ram was imaginary, why are they not condemned and when a dalit says people have problems with it.”
Mr. Manjhi further said that people having Manuwadi thought have shown the supremacy of Tulsidas rather than Valmiki.
“There are many things in the Ramayana which are not correct and even B R Ambedkar and Ram Manohar Lohia had said that objectionable portions should be omitted from Ramayan written by Tulsidas. Instead of serving the people, today’s politics is based on religion. Even scholars like Rahul Sankrityayan and Lokmanya Tilak had said that Ram was imaginary. However, no one says anything because they were Brahmins but when I say people have problems with it,” Mr. Manjhi said.
Mr. Manjhi had also made a similar statement earlier when he said that he does not consider Ramayan to be a true story, nor does he accept the fact that Ram was a great person.
Last year, Mr. Manjhi had made the headlines after he made the remark against the upper caste and later, he made a U-turn from his statement. BJP leaders in Bihar slammed Mr. Manjhi for his statement and asked him to remove Ram from his name if he believes that Lord Ram is imaginary.
BJP spokesperson Nikhil Anand condemned Mr. Manjhi’s comments and said, “These days it has become fashion to abuse and accuse Hindu relgion, the Hindu religious texts as well the Hindu god and goddess. It is really condemnable the way RJD leader, Samajwadi Party leader and now Jitan Ram Manjhi is on and off making statements against Hindu god [which] is hurting the sentiments of common Hindu masses.”
“They should better check their tongue. If they make a statement against Islam or any other religion, they will be honored with Fatwa. They are doing it In the name of liberalism, progressivism and to express the sentiment in favour of simpleton and to appease Muslims and their vote bank. In the name of secularism, they should not do anything to hurt the sentiments of Hindu masses. BJP strongly condemn Manjhi’s statement, “ Mr. Anand added.
Two months ago, the Nitish Kumar government was confronted with the controversy triggered by RJD’s Education Minister Chandra Shekhar’s comment on certain religious texts, including the Ramcharitmanas and Manusmriti, “spreading hate” with their casteist ideas.