‘Saints have the right to propagate their beliefs’: UP deputy CM on Haridwar ‘Dharam Sansad’

Keshav Prasad Maurya made these remarks during a BBC interview. Agitated over the questions, he left the interview midway.

Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya in an interview with the BBC was triggered over questions on the controversial Dharma Sansad hate speeches and walked out, mid-interview, claiming to be unaware of the said incidents.

Maurya, who was agitated over questions, about the hate speeches delivered by “Hindu saints” at a Dharma Sansad in Haridwar, removed his microphone and declined to speak further with the interviewer, Anant Zanane. He also allegedly demanded that the footage be deleted.

When Anant questioned Maurya over the Prime Minister and Centre’s silence over the genocidal speeches delivered at the three-day hate conclave in Haridwar, he (Maurya) defended them saying, “The BJP does not need a certificate to prove that we believe in ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas’.”

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“The saints have the right to propagate their beliefs on their platform,” he said before he sought to whataboutery and cross-questioning the interviewer as to why he did not speak about other religions.

He attempted to end the conversation over the event stating that the questions have nothing to do with the elections.

“Whatever is right and appropriate is said and no one is attempting to create any kind of an atmosphere. They propagate and say whatever they feel is appropriate for their platform.”

“If you speak about saints, talk about all other religions as well, not just Hindu saints. There exist Muslim saints, Christian saints, collect information on what all of them propagate and only then ask me questions. Would you have informed me prior about this topic, I would have come prepared,” he said.

He went on to say that Dharma Sansads have are held by saints from all religions and they say what they believe in.

It is to be noted that a three-day ‘Dharam Sansad’ was organised in Haridwar on December 17-19, where extremely provocative speeches inciting violence against Muslims were made by participants. The event held at Ved Niketan Dham in Haridwar, was organised by Yati Narasinghanand, the priest of Dasna temple in Ghaziabad, who is known for his hate-spewing remarks against Muslims.

During the interview, Anant questions the minister as to why his party does not mention Vikas Dubey alongside Mukhtar Ansari and Azam Khan when speaking about mafias, although the party claims to be unbiased when it comes to taking an action against them.

“It’s not about how many cases have been filed against a person and the punishments he has been given. We speak about those criminals who are alive and the names of those that create fear amongst the general public (aam aadmi),” Maurya said.

Alleging that Anant was talking like an “agent”, not a journalist, Maurya removed his mic, saying that he does not want to engage in a conversation with him anymore.

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