Bollywood singer-composer Vishal Dadlani offended the sentiments of Jains across the world, describing noted Jain religious leader Tarun Sagar (a member of the Digambar sect that does not wear clothes) as "some naked monk," and his act of not wearing clothes, as "colossal idiocy."
Vishal, who has been one of the most visible activists of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for quite some time now, had to soon bow down to pressure from Jains, AAP, and Twitterati.
He subsequently went on to announce on Twitter that he was quitting "all active political work/affiliation."
It all started around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, when Vishal said on Twitter: "People actually trying to defend the colossal idiocy of some naked monk, addressing Haryana assembly, telling women how to live! UNREAL! (2) [sic]."
He added: "That dude has the same education, as he has clothes on. None. I've no problem with nudity. I have a problem with religion in governance. [sic]"
People actually trying to defend the colossal idiocy of some naked monk, addressing Haryana assembly, telling women how to live! UNREAL! (2)— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) August 27, 2016
(2) That dude has the same education, as he has clothes on. None. I've no problem with nudity. I have a problem with religion in governance.— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) August 27, 2016
As the backlash over the comments flooded in, he tried to defend his statement in various forms, like asking why a "saint was lecturing in Parliament," before finally giving in and saying: "I apologise if I've upset Jain feelings. The intent was to ridicule the merger of religion & governance, and not any religion in particular. [sic]"
He also said in another tweet that he "got carried away."
The matter could have ended there, but then he chose to share a photo of the monk, who was the Digambar religious leader Tarun Sagar. Although he shared text with the image saying he was still apologising, it seemed to exacerbate matters.
The matter soon reached a crescendo, and prompted AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal to step in. He said: "Tarun Sagar ji Maharaj is a very reverred saint, not just for jains but everyone. Those showing disrespect is unfortunate and shud stop [sic]." Vishal re-tweeted this.
Tarun Sagar ji Maharaj is a very reverred saint, not just for jains but everyone. Those showing disrespect is unfortunate and shud stop— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) August 27, 2016
Political observers viewed Kejriwal's intervention as an effort not to antagonise the Jain community in Gujarat, where they hold considerable sway. The Gujarat Assembly elections are coming up next year, and Kejriwal wants the AAP to perform well in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the end, Vishal apologised to both Kejriwal and AAP leader Satyendar Jain, saying: "It feel bad that I hurt my Jain friends & my friends @ArvindKejriwal & @SatyendarJain. I hereby quit all active political work/affiliation."
However, the singer-composer, who has had small acting stints, like in Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone-starrer "Happy New Year," may draw some solace from the fact that the Digambar Jain saint, when asked about Vishal's comments, said: "He has the right to differ and criticise. I don't care what people say about me."
Vishal can now only hope that, with Ganeshotsav coming, people, grooving to the song "Bappa" from the Riteish Deshmukh-starrer "Banjo," which he has co-composed and sung, may forget about this entire episode.