People blaming their own destiny or karma for their misfortunes is a part of their everyday talk. However, you don't say that when you are an elected representative and is in charge of the state's health ministry.
Assam's health minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday told a group of newly appointed teachers that people die from cancer because of their 'sins'.
“It is a sin to shirk responsibilities. No one can go unpunished in God’s court if a member of his or her family does some injustice. Some people suffer from cancer, some die in accidents. This is all because of sins,” he said, reports Hindustan Times.
Teachers are vital to a robust education backbone & I always strive to work towards this ~ after we took over 36039 recruitments done, at an average of about 2120 teachers per month. Today we cereominally distributed appointment letters to 254 newly recruited PG teachers pic.twitter.com/uzNp6GnBQ7— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 21, 2017
His statements came while he was referring to a group of teachers who had bunked classes.
Sarma, who was previously with the Congress, is a trained lawyer and holds a PhD in Philosophy. His statement triggered sharp reactions from various quarters and many targeted his state's allegedly crumbling healthcare facilities.
Here is how he was out-rightly slammed for his bizarre remarks:
Many opposition leaders were clearly outraged
#SerialAbuserBJP Now, BJP Minister & Convenor abuses India’s cancer patients & their families.Mr. PM, as you tacitly support such lampooning of the brave hearts who fight cancer every second of their life, when will you act and sack such elements?https://t.co/TWSpWm56jw— Randeep S Surjewala (@rssurjewala) November 23, 2017
This man is the health minister of Assam. I want every one to reflect this . @himantabiswa is the health minister . Reflect again Hi manta Biswa Sarma is the health monster . Err minister ... https://t.co/9mh1scyFI0— Tehseen Poonawalla (@tehseenp) November 22, 2017
Aghast to see that even in 21stCentury,a State Cabinet Minister defies all medical science & asks masses to believe that Cancer is not caused by biological disorder but by Karma or Sin (Papam)Mr @himantabiswa Do you also believe our Lunar/Solar or Celestial Misisons are all SIN? https://t.co/9YX1vmJvR4— Radhika Khera (@Radhika_Khera) November 23, 2017
Hemanta Biswa Sarma says that cancer is divine justice for sins committed .That such a person is minister is divine injustice .— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) November 23, 2017
And so were some people in the media
No am sorry sarma : my dad died of cancer and I don’t see any karmic law in this ...— pallavi ghosh (@_pallavighosh) November 22, 2017
I don’t tweet about personal issues.But I have to say this-my niece was only 11yrs old when she lost her father to cancer.Innumerable families have gone through the unspeakable pain & trauma of Cancer.I wouldn’t wish it even upon worst enemies.Shame on you Mr.Min @himantabiswa https://t.co/eatFK35fsK— Smita Sharma (@Smita_Sharma) November 22, 2017
However, he defended his statement by saying it has been 'misunderstood'. He even got into a war of words with many who slammed him on Twitter.
...including senior Congress leader P Chidambaram:
Sir, please do not distort. Simply I said that Hinduism believe in karmic law and human sufferings are linked to karmic deficiency of past life.Don’t you belief that too?Of course in your party I do not know whether Hindu philosophy can be discussed at all https://t.co/P7CMBIRCYQ— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 22, 2017
By the way sir when did you rejoin @INCIndia ? As per as I know you were in Tamil Maanila Congress. Privileged people can indulged in any activity right from Chit Fund to Inxmedia, can switch party. After all #Pidi likes privileged people https://t.co/P7CMBIRCYQ— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 23, 2017
And with noted journalist Rajdeep Sardesai who called him a 'pumpkin':
Do not belittle Hindu philosophy in such simplistic way. If you call me anytime to your studio,I will argue with you that karmic law do exist. You can not written of teachings of Bhagavadgita by using the word pumpkin of the day etc https://t.co/wpKz7rpLYn— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 22, 2017
Should I deserve this tweet for quoting Bhagavadgita before a new batch of teachers and asking them to teach poor students sincerely. I do not know from when quoting Hindu philosophy to inspire a batch of teachers suddenly become a sin in this country https://t.co/wpKz7rpLYn— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 22, 2017
Did my speech was on cancer? Who told you? I simply asked a new batch of teachers to work sincerely & work for poor.In that context I argue that if we do not work sincerely in next life we might face karmic deficiency & that may lead to sufferings .what is insensitive about this? https://t.co/jlCAbEdh7s— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) November 22, 2017
The north-eastern state of Assam has been battling poor healthcare facilities and lack of adequate health infrastructure. In July 2016, a PTI report said that the state had more than 90,000 cancer cases between 2011-16.