As the 12th Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir came into form on Tuesday, BJP MLA Ravinder Raina triggered a controversy when he took the oath in the name of Mata Vaishno Devi, drawing objections from the opposition.
Raina, who is an MLA from Noushera Assembly segment and head of the state BJP youth wing, came up to the Speaker’s chair and said, “I do swear in the name of Mata Vaishno Devi.”
CPM MLA M Y Tarigami objected to him first and said there is a prescribed format for taking oath in the name of God. “There is no provision to swear in the name of Vaishno Devi. The member can swear in the name of Ishwar (God),” Tarigami said. Others from the opposition, including the National Conference and the Congress, supported Tarigami over his objection.
However, Protem Speaker Mohmmad Shafi intervened and asked Raina to take oath in the name of God. Raina tried to convince the opposition members and said, “I am a worshipper of Ma Vaishno Devi and consider her as my God.”
“Some people take oath in the names of Jesus and Allah. Why can’t I take the oath in the name of Mata Vaishno Devi? If I am doing that, it will be true respect to my God,” he added.
As his statements were cheered on by some people sitting in the visitors’ gallery, a few National Conference members said that it is not the meeting of a political party. “The member needs to advise his supporters to take the proceedings of the House seriously,” a member said.
Before joining the BJP, Raina was an RSS worker who worked as a commissioned officer in the Indian Navy. After his oath, he unfurled a tricolour amid chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai by his supporters.
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammaed Sayeed was the first to take oath; his deputy and BJP leader Nirmal Singh took his in Hindi. Others to take their oath included former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
All BJP legislators, except Singh, came to the House wearing Dogra turbans. They also garlanded the statue of late Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra ruler of the state.