New Delhi: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday responded sardonically to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's performing 'shastra puja' in front of the Rafale jet handed over by France.
"I have no doubts on the decision taken for national security. I don't know if it is true, but what can one say when a lemon-chilli is hung on a Rafale aircraft with the idea of protecting it from curse just like it's hung on a newly-purchased truck," he said.
Pawar is among many to have criticised Singh for sprinkling the aircraft with flowers, etching Om on its body and placing a lime in front of the wheels to "ward off evil spirits" before his first sortie in the jet.
Congress leader Udit Raj had tweeted saying,"What would the world be thinking? Due to this superstition, such fighter aircradt have to be bought from ouside. The day superstition ends, we will build it ourselves."
Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha had called the gesture "tamasha".
Home Minister Amit Shah, however, defended Singh by saying that 'shashtra puja' is a long-held tradition. He found unexpected support in Maharashtra Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam who called the practice a "hallowed tradition" of the country. He criticised Kharge and said that the practise could not be called a "tamasha".