(EDS : Certain corrections made in the earlier copy) New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) Culture minister Mahesh Sharma today came under opposition fire in the Rajya Sabha for a written reply to a question in which he said the birth place of Sita was “a matter of faith”.
Congress leader Digvijay Singh said the minister, in his reply, meant to say that there was no proof about Sita’s birth place even though he had reached the present position by using the name of Ram temple and Ram Setu.
Singh said he condemned the statement and asked the minister to apologise.
Sharma, however, defended his written reply, claiming there was no question mark over the birth place of Sita and he had specifically said in his response that the Valmiki Ramayana mentions it.
The issue came up through a question asked by BJP member Prabhat Jha who wanted to know the details about the development of the Sitamarhi region in Bihar which he said was not a “disputed” birth place.
In his reply, Sharma said a ‘Ramayana circuit’ planned by the government included the Sitamarhi area.
In his written reply, the minister said “however, Sita has been mentioned as having been born in Mithila region in Valmiki Ramayana which is presently dated 2nd Century BC.” Digvijay Singh then said, “I want to ask you that you have no proof?… Does the government have proof of their ‘swayamvar’ (Rama and Sita’s marriage)?”
This led to an uproar in the House.
Other opposition members, including Jaya Bachchan of SP, Anil Kumar Sahani of JD(U) and Ambika Soni of the Congress also raised objections to the minister’s reply.
However, Sharma maintained that there was no question over Sita’s birth place and that his reply had pointed to the Valmiki Ramayana.
Amid the furore, CPI(M) MP Sitaram Yechury, in a lighter vein, drew the attention of the members to his name, prompting Deputy Chairman M Hamid Ansari to say “You can be proud of your name.”
BJP member Subramanian Swamy, meanwhile, said the government should get in touch with Sri Lanka with regard to certain findings on ‘Ashoka Vatika’ and ‘Sanjeevani’ mountain which find mention in the epic Ramayana.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.