Some Indian politicians can go to any lengths to get their points across to the other side. And sometimes, while doing so they end up saying things that are odd, to say the least. From chowmein and mobile phones causing rape to Indians having built aeroplanes before anyone else, each year we are subjected to statements by politicians that make us laugh, cry or leave us absolutely confounded.
2018 was no different. This year Darwin’s theory was dismissed, Narada was compared with Google and the Kerala floods were blamed on cow slaughter, taking the bizarreness to new highs, or rather, lows.
Here are some gems:
1. ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution is wrong’
Early this year, Union Minister Satyapal Singh had claimed that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution needed to be removed from school curriculums because it was wrong. The IPS-officer-turned politician explained his doubts about Darwin’s theory—which is based on facts and accepted worldwide—by saying, “Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man... No books we have read or the tales told to us by our grandparents had such a mention.”
2. ‘Narada Muni was like Google’
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said in April that the mythological character, Narada Muni, was exactly like Google since he had all the information about the world. Rupani said, “This is relevant in today’s time that Narad was a man of information; who had information of the whole world… he acted on these information…collecting information was his dharma for the betterment of the humankind, and it is very much required. Google is the source of information just like Narad, because he knew everything happening in the world.”
3. ‘There was internet in the age of Mahabharata’
Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb claimed that while in the modern age, Europe and the United States claim to have invented modern communication systems such as the telephone and the internet, India had all of this in the ancient times. Deb said during a public gathering in April, “In the Mahabharata, it has been mentioned that Sanjay gave a live relay of the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas to the blind king Dhritarashtra. Communication was possible because our technology was sophisticated and developed during those times. We had Internet and a satellite communication system. It is not like Internet or media wasn’t available in the age of Mahabharata.”
4. ‘Open cow slaughter caused Kerala floods’
While hundreds died and thousands were displaced by the Kerala floods, Karnataka BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal claimed that this was because the state permitted cow slaughter. On the sidelines of a function at Vijayapura, Yatnal said, “In Kerala, people openly slaughter cows. What happened? Within a year, a situation like this (flood) arose. Whoever hurts the Hindu religious beliefs will face such consequences.”
5. ‘Muslims descendants of Ram’
Union Minister Giriraj Singh is known for his outlandish statements. But he probably outdid himself this year when he said Muslims should support the building of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya because they are his descendants. Asking Muslims to help construct the temple, he said “They were also the descendants of Lord Ram and not Mughal Emperor Babur”.
6. ‘Vasundhara Raje has become very fat’
Former JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has often made headlines with his misogynist remarks, especially ones referring to women’s bodies. This year, during the run up to the five-state Assembly polls, he said at a gathering in Alwar that former chief minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje needed rest because she was fat. He said, “Vasundhra ko aaram do, bahut thak gayi hain, bahut moti ho gayi hain, pehle patli thi. Humare Madhya Pradesh ki beti hai. (Give Vasundhara some rest, she is very tired, she has become very fat, she used to be thin earlier. She is the daughter of Madhya Pradesh).”
7. ‘Will you carry a blood-soaked napkin into friend’s home?’
While protests were raging over the Supreme Court allowing women of menstrual age to enter the Sabarimala temple, Union Minister Smriti Iranimade it clear that she did not support the decision. Speaking at an event, Irani justified her stand saying, “I am nobody to speak against the Supreme Court verdict as I am a serving cabinet minister. But just plain common sense is that would you carry a napkin seeped with menstrual blood and walk into a friend’s house. You would not. And would you think it is respectful to do the same when you walk into the house of god? That is the difference. I have the right to pray, but no right to desecrate.” Perhaps she had forgotten that during their period, women do wear sanitary pads, presumably soaked in blood, everywhere they go.
8. ‘I asked my wife to keep having children’
This BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh, Vikram Saini, thinks that despite India’s booming population, Hindus in the country should keep having as many children. He discussed his very personal conversation with his wife, ironically at a population control campaign programme, in Muzaffarnagar, saying, “Until a law on population control comes into existence, I have told my wife to keep producing children, even though she told me that two were enough. When we had two children, my wife said we did not need a third one, but I said we should have four to five.” He also exhorted his “Hindu brothers” to continue producing children.