New Delhi: The BJP on Wednesday distanced itself from Union minister Kiren Rijiju's reported comment on beef eating, saying the issue involves "great religious sentiments" and should not be dragged into the political domain.
Taking on his ministerial colleague Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi over his remark that those who cannot live without eating beef should go to Pakistan or some Arab country, Rijiju had reportedly said in Mizoram's capital Aizwal, "I eat beef, I am from Arunachal Pradesh, can somebody stop me? So let us not be touchy about somebody's practises."
Asked about the row, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "As far as beef ban is concerned, it is a matter of great religious sentiments across the length and breadth of the country. So I would not pull this issue in the political domain."
Pressed by reporters whether BJP believes that Rijiju has hurt sentiments, he said, "There is a religious feeling about this in India. I have made it clear that it would be better if we do not use it for political fight. I would rather respect the sensitivities of people than answer it politically."
Rijiju earlier today clarified his comment saying he never said he ate beef but insisted that no restrictions can be put on food habits in a secular country like India.
The Union Minister of State for Home said sentiments of the majority should be respected in Hindu-majority as well as Christian and Muslim-majority states. "India is a secular country and food habits cannot be stopped," he told a news agency over phone from Aizwal.
A section of BJP and Hindutva organisations have been demanding a complete ban on sale and consumption of beef across the country. Sale and consumption of beef are banned in some states including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.