In a brazen display of insensitivity and ignorance, Bihar Education Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Chandra Shekhar has crossed a line that should never be crossed in a multicultural and diverse society like India. His recent remarks equating the revered Hindu epic, Ramcharitmanas, to potassium cyanide are not just offensive but also reflective of a dangerous trend in Indian politics.

Chandra Shekhar made these incendiary comments during an event commemorating Hindi Diwas on September 14. He posed a disturbing hypothetical question, asking whether one would consume a meal contaminated with potassium cyanide, even if it included 56 other dishes. In a blatant and offensive analogy, he suggested that this deadly poison was akin to the sacred scriptures of Hinduism.

First and foremost, it is crucial to emphasise that freedom of speech is a cornerstone of any democratic society. However, this freedom should never be misconstrued as a license to spew hate speech or incite communal tension. Chandra Shekhar’s comments are a grave violation of the principles that underpin a harmonious and inclusive society.

Ramcharitmanas, authored by the saint Tulsidas, is a revered text in Hinduism and holds profound religious significance for millions of people. Likening it to a deadly poison is not only insulting but also deeply hurtful to the sentiments of the Hindu community. Such comments have the potential to incite anger, division, and even violence.

Furthermore, Chandra Shekhar’s remarks raise questions about his suitability for the position of Bihar Education Minister. A person entrusted with the responsibility of shaping young minds should exhibit a sense of responsibility, respect for diversity, and a commitment to fostering an environment of tolerance and inclusivity.

It is alarming to witness how some politicians are resorting to divisive and polarizing rhetoric to further their agendas. Chandra Shekhar’s comments are a stark reminder that religious tolerance and respect for diversity are under threat in India. This trend of using religion as a tool for political gains is not only detrimental to the social fabric of the nation but also undermines the secular principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Chandra Shekhar’s reckless and offensive comments cannot be justified under the guise of free speech. They represent a disturbing trend of intolerance and religious insensitivity that must be condemned unequivocally. It is imperative that political leaders, regardless of their affiliations, prioritise unity, respect, and inclusivity over divisive rhetoric that threatens the social harmony of our great nation.

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