Culture minister Mahesh Sharma on Thursday came under attack in Rajya Sabha as he questioned the mythological history, saying the birthplace of Goddess Sita was a ‘matter of faith’ and the Opposition saying there was no historic evidence.
The minister, however, defended his written reply claiming there was no question mark over the birthplace of Sita and he had said in his response that the Valmiki Ramayana mentions it.
During the Question Hour, BJP member Prabhat Jha sought details about the development of the Sitamarhi region in Bihar which he said was not a “disputed” birthplace.
Sharma replied saying that a ‘Ramayana circuit’ planned by the government which included the Sitamarhi area.
However, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh immediately got up and said he condemns the minister’s reply which said that the “birthplace of Sita is a matter of faith”.
To say that the birthplace of Sita, the wife of mythological king Rama, was a matter of faith, shows that it “does not rely on direct evidence,” he said.
“The Archaeological Survey of India has not carried out any excavation in the district of Sitamarhi so far and hence it does not have any historical proof regarding Sitamarhi as the birthplace of Sita,” Singh said.
In his written reply, the Minister had said “however, Sita has been mentioned as having been born in Mithila region in Valmiki Ramayana which is presently dated 2nd Century BC.”
Attacking the ruling party, Singh said the BJP had raised objections to a similar reply made by an earlier Congress-led government on the ‘Ram Setu’ between India and Sri Lanka.
It is a chain of shoals from the Dhanushkodi tip of India’s Pamban Island and ends at Sri Lanka’s Mannar Island.
“By saying that it is a matter of faith, is it implied that there is no proof? Does the government have proof of their ‘swayamvar’ (Rama and Sita’s marriage),” Singh asked mockingly. He demanded an apology from Sharma for his reply.
Other opposition members including Jaya Bachchan of SP, JD(U) MP Anil Kumar Sahani and Ambika Soni of Congress also raised objections.
However, Sharma maintained that there were no question over Sita’s birthplace and that his reply had pointed to the Valmiki Ramayana. Prime Minister Narendra Modi present during the discussion.
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 on the ‘Ashoka Vatika’ and ‘Sanjeevani’ mountain which find mention in the mythological epic Ramayana.