Mumbai: Taking a dig at the ongoing debate over the caste of Lord Hanuman, BJP ally Shiv Sena on Saturday said other characters from the epic Ramayana better keep their caste certificates ready.
Terming the debate "unwarranted" and "pointless", the party said attempts were being made in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly to write a "new Ramayana" by attaching caste labels to Lord Hanuman, and such a move should be thwarted.
"Although a Ram temple is yet to be constructed in Ayodhya, a debate has started in the BJP over the caste of Hanuman, the embodiment of devotion and loyalty. What is the point in debating the religion and caste of Lord Hanuman" the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
"While campaigning in the recently-concluded assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said Hanuman was a Dalit. Thereafter, many others came forward to claim that the 'Monkey God' belonged to their caste.
"Thereafter, his party colleague and MLC Bukkal Nawab said he was a Muslim...Actually, trying to find the caste of Lord Hanuman is foolishness," it said.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said that Adityanath's cabinet colleague Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary said on record in the Assembly that the God was a Jat.
Acharya Nirbhay Sagar Maharaj claimed that according to Jain scriptures, Lord Hanuman was a Jain, the Shiv Sena said.
"This way, a new Ramayana is being penned in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly and caste labels are being attached to all its leading characters. A temple of Lord Ram is planned to be constructed in Ayodhya, but these people are trying to find the caste of the devotee of Ram...
"In a way, they are making fun of Hanuman. But those who call themselves guardians of Hindutva are still mum over this. Had this been done by Muslims or 'progressive' people, then this Hindutva brigade would have created an uproar," the editorial said.
"Hanuman is an important character in the Ramayana. He is the embodiment of devotion and loyalty towards Lord Ram...If anyone is trying to write a new Ramayana in UP Assembly by attaching different caste labels to him, then these attempts should be thwarted," it said.
"Despite the BJP facing defeats in the recent elections, this debate over the caste of Hanuman is likely to continue. Hence, other characters from the Ramayana should keep their caste certificates ready now," the Sena concluded.
The debate had started after Adityanath during a poll rally in Rajasthan last month said, "Hanuman was a forest dweller, deprived and a Dalit. Bajrang Bali worked to connect all Indian communities together, from north to south and east to west".