Pankaja Munde
₹2 Billion Scam Puts Maharashtra Minister Pankaja Munde in SoupIANS

Maharashtra Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde invited controversy when she said that the outrage over a woman offering puja at a temple that doesn't permit women to offer pujas was a non-issue.

Defending the ban, she said, "These are traditions and cannot be linked with insult of women fraternity."

She also pointed out that women don't visit Hanuman temples, as he was a bachelor just like the god, Shani.

Had the issue been of female foeticide or equal opportunities not being available to women, that would be consequential. However, the entry into a temple was a matter of tradition, she said.

"As a woman, what I feel is that it is a non-issue. As a person, I am against all kinds of superstitions. But I strongly feel that religion and culture should not create animosity between people and vitiate the atmosphere," DNA reported her as saying.

She also criticised the actions of the temple authorities as they had washed the temple with milk to "purify" it after a woman had offered her prayers by climbing the podium, breaching security, at the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district where women aren't allowed to offer pujas.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) let its outrage be known when Chitra Wagh, women's wing president of the state NCP, said, "In a progressive state like Maharashtra, instead of appreciating the move to break the traditions that are against women, the BJP minister, by making such a statement, has taken state back to an era where women were not treated at par with men."