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NCP Leader's "Lord Ram Was Non-Vegetarian" Comment Sparks Row

New Delhi: Days before the mega Ram temple consecration ceremony in Ayodhya to be attended by top leaders, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jitendra Awhad has provoked a controversy with his comment that "Lord Ram was a non-vegetarian".

Mr Awhad, who belongs to the Sharad Pawar camp of the NCP, made the comment at an event in Maharashtra's Shridi on Wednesday.

"Lord Ram belongs to us, Bahujans. He used to hunt and eat animals. He is a Bahujan. They are trying to make everyone a vegetarian by giving Lord Ram's example. But Lord Ram was not a vegetarian, he was a non-vegetarian. A person who has stayed in the forest for 14 years - where will he go to find vegetarian food?" Mr Awhad said, referring to the years Lord Ram spent in the forests in the Hindu epic Ramayana.

The comment, which comes ahead of the grand consecration of the new Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya later this month, has sparked a massive controversy, with some seeking action against him for hurting religious sentiments.

A large group of supporters of the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP turned up outside Mr Awhad's Mumbai home on Wednesday night and shouted slogans against him. The protesters returned this morning with a poster of Mr Awhad, which they repeatedly hit with slippers.

The police have deployed extra personnel in front of Mr Awhad's house.

Led by BJP MLA Ram Kadam, the protesters said they will march to the nearest police station and file a case against the NCP MLA over his comments that hurt the sentiments of Hindus.

"All devotees of Lord Ram will file a police case against Jitendra Awhad," Mr Kadam said. "If Balasaheb were alive, today's Saamana newspaper would have spoken harshly to those who called Lord Ram a non-vegetarian," Mr Kadam said in a post on X, referring to the Shiv Sena's mouthpiece.

"But what is the reality today? Anyone can say anything about Lord Ram; anyone can make fun of Hindus. They don't care. They are as cold as ice. But come elections, they will talk about Hindutva," the BJP MLA said.

Mr Awhad, however, did not stop at Lord Ram. He pressed on and opened another controversy with his comment that India got independence only because of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

"No matter what someone says, the truth is that we got independence only because of Gandhi and Nehru. Gandhi ji was not assassinated in 1947, but the first attack on him took place in 1935, the second in 1938, and the third in 1942," Mr Awhad said.

"After all, why did they attack him so many times... because Gandhi ji was a tradesman and an OBC (Other Backward Classes). The fact that the leader of such a big independence movement was an OBC was not acceptable to them (RSS)," the MLA of the Sharad Pawar NCP faction said, referring to the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

In Ayodhya, the local authorities and the police are making arrangements for the anticipated surge in visitors around the Ram temple consecration ceremony. Security has been tightened and measures are in place to ensure the temple's consecration event goes smoothly.


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