NEW DELHI -- In India, a politician who calls for the end of one of its religions can live in a lovely bungalow, attend Parliament, while making fun of the case registered against him for a "deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings."
On Sunday, Ananth Kumar Hegde, a Bhartiya Janata Party lawmaker from Karnataka, called for the end of Islam, which is followed by more than 170 million Indian citizens.
"As long as we have Islam in the world, there will be no end to terrorism. If we are unable to end Islam, we won’t be able to end terrorism. If you media people have the freedom to report this, please report this," he told reporters in his constituency of Uttara Kannada.
HuffPost India caught up with Hegde on Thursday evening at his lovely bungalow in Lutyens' Delhi, where the lawmaker lives when he comes to attend Parliament. Big leafy trees line the street where he lives, and pink flowers bloom in his garden.
The 47-year-old BJP leader said that he spends most of his time in Uttara Kannada, where he has won five Lok Sabha elections since 1996. The hardcore adherent of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh won his first election when he was 28-years-old, and he has never lost except in 1999 to Congress Party's Margaret Alva.
While elaborating on the atrocities Hindus suffered at the hands of Muslim rulers over centuries, Kumar was also a attentive host. A glass of water was followed by a cup of tea. Four pieces of Indian sweets rested on a plate.
Sitting crossed legged in neatly pressed trousers, and a crisp white shirt, Hegde said that he was "proud" of his statement to the media on Sunday, and he called the case registered against him at the local police station as one of many "certificates," which he is "proud" to have received.
What Do You Mean?
HuffPost India asked Hegde what he meant by ending Islam.
The lawmaker explained that "broadminded Muslims" should eliminate Islam as it exists today, and revamp its "ideology" to be more modern and tolerant of other religions.
"Is it a peaceful religion? Peace and then Islam are opposite words. Wherever Islam is, peace is not there. Wherever the peace is there, there is no Islam. These two words are totally opposite words"
Whenever Islam is, the peace is not there. Wherever the peace is there, there is no Islam.
Hegde's second point was that Muslims in India would have to "obey" India, and India was synonyms with Hindus.
"They are living in India, they should obey to India. India means Hindu. There is no difference between India and Hindu because for the last thousands of years we have our own culture, our own living system. You so called intellectual people have divided that word. Hindu versus India."
So, what does listening to "India-Hindus" entail?
"You can learn to live peacefully. Tolerance is in our blood and veins. Since last so many years, they are objecting to our processions. They are questioning our puja system, our culture. Who does not believe in Allah, they are Kafirs."
Hegde then asked how minorities had been treated in Kashmir, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
"Is this the way of a peaceful religion. Even then, more than 20 crore Muslims are living (in India) because Hindus are tolerant. We believe Allah, we believe Jesus, we believe Ganesh. We believe Ishwar. There is no difference between Allah and Ishwar. Allah and then Jesus Christ. In Hindu mindset, there is no difference. Yes, God is one. We believe that, but they can't believe that. Except Allah, nobody else. If you believe in Allah, you have the right to live in the world otherwise you should be eliminated."
An agitated Hegde volunteered to share his thoughts on Islam and women.
"There is no soul for women. There is no value for the existence of women. Have you gone through the Koran, Hadith. You have to study to realize that there is no value of existence of women. Just use and throw. It is the ideology of that peaceful religion isn't it?"
You so called intellectual people have divided that word. Hindu versus India.
What Say, Home Minister?
Hedge's offensive remark hasn't received half as much as attention as Ram Shankar Katheria, BJP's lawmaker from Agra, who compared Muslims to "demons" and warned of a "final battle."
While Katheria's remarks have rocked Parliament, this week, Hedge's declaration passed under the radar until Congress Party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad brought it up in Rajya Sabha, this week, while citing several anti-Muslims remarks made by BJP leaders recently.
"You have one agenda for the party and another agenda for the government," he said. "You charged Kanhaiya Kumar with sedition. Shouldn't sedition case be filed against these people?" he said.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that his officers examined Katheria's statement on a CD and concluded that the BJP leader had not said anything "inflammatory."
Hedge, however, is "proud" to admit that he has called for the end of Islam.
What say, Home Minister?
At the end of the conversation, HuffPost India asked Hegde if he had Muslim friends. "Absolutely, I have many Muslim friends. They are all broadminded Muslims," he said.
And so, would his remarks not hurt them? "There is no difference between Islam and radicalism," he said.
There is no difference between Allah and Ishwar. Allah and then Jesus Christ. In Hindu mindset, there is no difference.
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