Even as the Indian government had started to recover from the embarrassment caused by comments made by former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal against Prophet Mohammad, another BJP leader has come under the scanner for making derogatory comments against Islam. BJP Telangana MLA Raja Singh was recently suspended by the party after protests broke out in Hyderabad over his alleged comments.
Singh was arrested by Hyderabad Police on Tuesday after a case was lodged against him following Monday night's protests in the wake of a viral video in which he can be heard making derogatory comments against Islam and Prophet Mohammad.
The incidents have earned BJP rebukes from Opposition leaders including AIMIM leader Asadudding Owaising who said that the saffron party had not learnt a lesson from the Nupur Sharma episode which had triggered international outrage.
While Sharma had been suspended earlier, the BJP on Tuesday took similar action against Singh. However, the censure seems to have come as too little too late for the party which has been left red-faced by the Telangana MLA's tone-deaf and politically incorrect comments in multiple previous occasions.
Who is Raja 'Tiger' Singh Lodha?
Raja Naval Singh Lodh 'Tiger' is one of the most motormouth leaders in the BJP with his name cropping up in one controversy after another due to his contentious speeches and divisive comments.
With the BJP hoping to score victories in Telangana in 2023, Singh has been in the limelight with his inflammatory speeches and has been on the forefront if increasing the saffron party's ground-level presence in the state. From demanding that Rohingyas be shot in the head to claiming that homes of UP voters not voting for Yogi Adityanath will be demolished, Singh is no stranger to controversy.
A two-time MLA from Goshamahal constituency, Singh kicked off the 2023 state election campaign in the state in May with a promise that BJP will come to power. At the rally, he had said, "The coming times are the times of war. The Nizams will not rule us anymore," said Singh. "There is going to be Hindu raj. India should be a Hindu nation. We need to kick out the anti-Hindus in Telangana," as reported by Article 14. With considerable influence among the Lodha community, Singh claims to be a proud 'gau rakshak' who has saved the lives of hundreds of cows in Hyderabad.
Singh has previously boasted of his connections with the RSS in previous interviews and though he was formerly with the TDP, Singh had stated that he deeply shared the RSS' Hindutva values, as reported by News18. The leader has been working with the BJP since 2013.
No stranger to hate speech
Singh has over 75 cases booked against him, a majority of them against hate speech and provocative or inflammatory comments as well as charges of and disrupting law and order.
Singh was the first one to raise a demand for renaming Hyderabad as "Bhagyanagar" in 2018, a demand that has since been echoed by several BJP leaders in Hyderabad and has become a primary talking point of the party's poll campaign.
Singh has previously been in news this year for making derogatory comments about the 12th-century Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer in Rajasthan, and for taking part in Ram Navami celebrations where he used abusive language and called for boycott of Muslims. He also referred to them as "gaddars".
Previously, Singh had demanded that those who are opposed to the Ram Mandir temple construction should be beheaded. The MLA has not only had multiple FIRs against him but has also been suspended from Facebook for making inflammatory comments.
What did Singh say this time?
On Monday, Singh released a video criticising stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, who recently performed in Hyderabad in which he allegedly made some comments about Islam.
Singh said Faruqui hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus and made remarks against the comedian and his mother. He also allegedly made derogatory remarks on the Prophet in the video.
BJP leaders punished for anti-Islamic comments
Raja Singh is the third BJP functionary to face action over alleged anti-Muslim comments in recent months. Earlier, Nupur Sharma was suspended for her comments on Prophet Muhammad that had led to national as well as an international outrage. Several countries issued public statements and summoned Indian diplomats to register their protests. Another functionary Naveen Kumar Jindal was also expelled for comments on Islam.
(With inputs from PTI)