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Video of Rahul meeting Tamil Nadu pastor triggers row; BJP claims he hurt ‘Hindu sentiments’

The video purportedly shows a controversial Catholic priest telling Gandhi that ‘Jesus is a real god’. Congress says BJP is desperate after the success of the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'.

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New Delhi:  A one-minute clip of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s conversation about Jesus with George Ponniah — a controversial Catholic priest in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district — that’s going viral has triggered an all-out social media war with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  

While the BJP claims that Gandhi’s discussion “hurt Hindus’ sentiments”, the Congress has denied the allegation, calling it “typical BJP mischief”.

Gandhi allegedly met the pastor in Muttidichan Parai Church, Puliyoorkurichi, where he camped Friday morning as part of the Congress’s ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. 

In the purported clip, which BJP leaders are now sharing on social media, Ponniah’s heard telling Gandhi: “He is a real god…he remained in the human form, not like Shakti and others… he was born like a man, in this world”. 

This was in response to Gandhi’s question: “But…he is not god? Or is he god? So Jesus Christ is a form of god,” Gandhi is heard asking in the video”.

Parts of the conversation are not heard clearly. 

ThePrint has been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the video.

The BJP claims that the pastor’s words meant that Jesus is the only god. BJP leaders Shehzad Poonawalla, Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, and Priti Gandhi are among those sharing the video on Twitter. BJP’s national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla accused the  Congress of “endorsing & legitimising hate mongers”. 


Ponniah, a Catholic pastor, was booked in July 2021 for allegedly making “hate speech” about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Tamil Nadu’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaders, and Bhuma Devi (earth goddess). 

In January this year, the Madras HC had refused to quash a First Information Report (FIR) against him, saying that his remarks against Bharat Mata and Bhuma Devi attract the offence of hurting religious sentiments under Section 295A of IPC. 

Tamil Nadu Congress working president Mayura Jayakumar told ThePrint that he wasn’t aware of any such meeting, and Congress Tamil Nadu in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao didn’t respond to ThePrint’s calls.  

Also Read: Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra has many questions for Rahul Gandhi. But no easy answers

BJP’s tweets, and Congress refutation

BJP leaders claimed that Gandhi’s meeting with a priest who was earlier booked for promoting enmity between different groups was an attempt to “break India” (Bharat todo) rather than “unite India” (Bharat jodo) — a reference to the Congress party’s ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. 

BJP leader Sambit Patra called it “denouncing” one religion to “appease” another. 

“This ‘Hindu Hatred’ of the Congress in general & Rahul in particular is no more a clandestine affair …Rahul wears it on his sleeves with pride! “Bharat-Todo” indeed by Rahul Gandhi,” Patra tweeted


Minister of State in Uttar Pradesh Dinesh Pratap Singh demanded an apology to “the Hindus”. 


Refuting the allegations, Ramesh said that the BJP’s tweets bear no “relation whatsoever” to what’s recorded in the audio.    

“An atrocious tweet from the BJP hate factory is doing the rounds. It bears no relation whatsoever to what is recorded in the audio. This is typical BJP mischief that has become more desperate after the successful launch of the Bharat JodoYatra which is evoking such a huge response,” Ramesh said in a tweet. 

“People who were 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 the Bharat JodoYatra will fail miserably,” he added. 

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: Congress or BJP– Indian parties will have polls. But ‘eventually’ is a long time in India


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