New Delhi: The sensitive issue of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s religion once again came to fore when New Delhi’s Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar referred to her as a Christian, while speaking about India’s pluralism and diversity.
As per reports on Thursday, the Indian envoy made the reference while delivering a key-note speech at a US university last month. However, realizing the mistake and the sensitivity of the matter, reference to Sonia as a Christian was immediately deleted.
The incident occurred on February 24, when Shankar delivered a lecture on the subject “Why India Matters” at Emory University.
“India is a land of incredible diversity. Like the United States it celebrates pluralism. It not only tolerates diversity but has embraced it and has allowed people from all walks of life to flourish and realize their full potential. This is a tradition that is rooted in our civilization. Throughout our history peoples from other parts of the world have come to India and made it a home, resulting in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, one where individual faith and belief is not only respected but adds to the overall sense of nationhood. Today the fact that we have a woman Head of State, a Sikh Head of Government and a Muslim Vice President and a Christian as the leader of the largest national political party is perhaps the best statement of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of our state,” Meera Shankar was quoted as saying in the report.
This is possibly the first instance of its kind that a top ranking government official had referred to the religion of the Congress president and UPA Chairperson.
The speech was posted on the Embassy’s website but certain omissions were made into it soon and the phrase, “...and a Christian as the leader of the largest national political party...” was deleted.
Despite the Indian Embassy taking all precautionary measures, Shankar’s speech found its way on YouTube, where an unedited video was posted recently.
The Indian Embassy has, since then, maintained a stoic silence on the issue and refused to comment on it.
On November 29 last year, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed a petition filed by a retired DGP-rank officer of Haryana, seeking details about the religion of Sonia Gandhi from the Registrar General of Census Operations.