If you oppose yoga or surya namaskar, you have three choices: leave India, drown in the sea or live in a dark room, according to BJP MP Yogi Adityanath.
His polarising comments in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency Varanasi on Tuesday come a day after the the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) decided to launch an all-India campaign against efforts to make 'surya namaskar' and yoga compulsory in schools.
Surya namaskar is a Yoga practice consisting of a set of 12 postures.
Jinko Surya mein bhi saampradaayikta nazar ati hai, mai unse vinamrata se kahunga ki wo samundra mein jakar doob jayein: Yogi Adityanath
— ANI (@ANI_news) June 9, 2015
He said that surya namaskar (salutation to Sun) helps in purification of mind and "those who abstain from the Sun God should drown themselves in the ocean or live in a darkened room for the rest of their life," Hindustan Times quoted Adityanath as saying.
The AIMPLB had said that the government is trying to impose Hindu practices on Muslims under the garb of yoga, even as plans are afoot to make the International Yoga Day on 21 June a grand success, with invitations being sent to diplomats of 152 countries for the event to be held from 7.30 am to 7.35 am in the national capital.
Adityanath, the BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh, made the controversial statement while participating at Mata Annapurna Mandir in Varanasi.
The 42-year-old firebrand leader is known for making controversial remarks, the latest being a claim that India's historic mausoleum and one of the wonders of the world, Taj Mahal, was built on Shiv temple.
A few days ago, BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is also a minister in the Modi government, had said that those who can't live without eating beef can go to Pakistan or any other Arab country, prompting former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju to call Naqvi an 'idiot'.