A legislator from India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has attempted to link politics to the deadly Nepal earthquake, saying an opposition lawmaker accused of eating beef caused the temblor.
India parliamentary member Sakshi Maharaj scoffed at opposition Indian National Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi saying he entered a sacred Hindu temple without "purifying himself" after eating beef.
Hindu tradition holds that cows are sacred, and disapprove of consuming beef.
"Rahul Gandhi eats beef, and goes to the holy shrine without purifying himself. The earthquake was bound to happen," said Maharaj, who offered his thoughts after Gandhi visited the Kedarnath temple, the Times of India reported April 28.
The shrine is one of Hinduism's most important sites, dedicated to the god Shiva. The temple recently reopened to the public.
Gandhi's colleagues at the Congress party took Maharaj to task for his remarks.
Congress Party spokesperson Sushmita Dev castigated the politician, appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP's leadership to rein in members like Maharaj.
"In a most unfortunate and petty manner, certain habitual motor mouth offenders of the BJP - cohorts of the PM and BJP chief - are trying to communalize and politicize a grave human tragedy," Dev said.
"The beef eating comment was aimed at minorities," said Sajan K. George, president of the ecumenical Global Council of Indian Christians. "It is a way of politicizing religion."
In an interview with Asianews.it, George recalled that Maharaj has been issuing absurd statements that seem to promote their party's "Hindu agenda."
Maharaj previously praised the murderers of Mahatma Gandhi as "patriots," George said. Last year, he asked Hindu women to have at least four children to ensure the survival of their religion, he added.
The BJP lawmaker also sought the death penalty for Hindus who convert to another religion, the GCIC president added.
"With their anti-Christian and anti-minority violence, these extremists have created fertile ground to intimidate the most vulnerable communities," George pointed out.