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Wed. Sep 28th, 2022
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KANYAKUMARI: Barely four days into his 150-day-long Bharat Jodo Yatra, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi found himself surrounded in a controversy after meeting Parish priest George Ponnaiah, who was arrested last July for his alleged hate speech against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu on Friday.
On Saturday morning, BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla tweeted a video clip of their interaction that has gone viral.
While visiting the Tamil Nadu pastor at Muttidichan Parai Church, Puliyoorkurichy, where he camped for a morning break, Rahul can purportedly be heard asking the priest, “Jesus Christ is a form of god? Is that right?” To this priest is heard replying, “He is the real god. God reveals him(self) as a man, a real person … not like shakti (strength) … so we see a human being.”
In Hindu beliefs, shakti is also referred to the Mother Goddess.
Following this, BJP national spokesperson Poonawalla took a swipe, saying, “Bharat Jodo with Bharat-todo (break-India) icons”.
“George Ponnaiah who met Rahul Gandhi says Jesus is the only God unlike Shakti (& other Gods). Earlier he was arrested for his bigotry remark that he wore ‘shoes because impurities of Bharat Mata should not contaminate us’,” said Poonawalla.

Ponnaiah had made the contentious remarks in a meeting on July 18, 2021, at Arumanai in Tamil Nadu.
Soon after, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh termed the video a “typical BJP mischief”. “It bears no relation whatsoever to what is recorded in the audio. This is typical BJP mischief, who has become more desperate after the successful launch of the Bharat Jodo Yatra,” said Ramesh.
The AICC general secretary communications tweeted, “An atrocious tweet from the BJP hate factory is doing the rounds.”

He went on to target the BJP, saying people “responsible for the killing of Mahatma Gandhi and the murders of people like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh are raising questions!”
“What a morbid joke! Such attempts to damage the spirit of Bharat Jodo Yatra will fail miserably,” he said in another tweet.

Last July, Ponniah was arrested in Kallikudi, Madurai, on the charges of delivering a hate speech against Prime Minister Modi, home minister Amit Shah, a DMK minister and others.

The Panavilai parish priest was speaking at a meeting organised at Arumanai, held to condemn closure of churches, alleged ban on conducting prayer meetings and denial of permit to build churches even on patta land and also to pay tributes to activist father Stan Swamy.
(With agency inputs)

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