India's union culture minister Mahesh Sharma has been receiving unprecedented publicity in the recent past, which has only increased this month after a string of interviews to various media outlets.
For the right reasons? Not really.
Even the media has not spared him, running headlines which read 'Shame on You, Mr. Culture Minister' and 'When the clock struck prejudice' while others have said that his statements could be 'deep rooted bias.'
Sharma said this during a meeting with leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the first week of September, when he pledged to launch a countrywide movement to rid the nation of "sanskritik pradushan (cultural pollution)."
3. On India's former President APJ Abdul Kalam
This statement was made in the backdrop of the centre's decision to rename the Aurangzeb Road in Delhi after India's former President Abdul Kalam who recently passed away.
"I don’t think Aurangzeb was an ideal person. Only a source of inspiration can be inspirational. Aurangzeb Road has been named after such a great man who, despite being a Muslim, was a nationalist and a humanist, A P J Abdul Kalam. The road has been named after him" the minister said.
4. Quran and Bible are not central to India's soul
"Gita and Ramayana reflect India's soul. But we also respect Quran and would include best thoughts from it. I respect Bible and Quran but they are not central to soul of India in the way as Gita and Ramayana are. As India's cultural minister, I recommend that Ramayana and Gita should be part of our school curriculum and I am working extensively with HRD Minister Smriti Irani towards this," Sharma told India Today in an interview this week.
5. On women of three generations in the kitchen
In the same interview to India Today, Sharma made another statement that was largely overshadowed.
While talking about preserving India's culture from 'western modernization,' the minister said "In our culture women of three generations cook food in the same kitchen... in Europe, a 16-year-old leaves home."
He also added that "Culture defines a nation. The time has come to win back our culture from the negative influence of Western culture."
In an interview to TOI on Saturday, after making his 'girls and night outs' comment, Mahesh Sharma bluntly denied all his previous controversial comments and blamed everything on the media.
"I am a soldier of the Modi government. I cannot go beyond the Prime Minister's line of action. I only remark within my capacity and on those matters that are related to my ministries," he told the newspaper.
While adding that he was not publicity hungry, he also said "From time to time, we receive directions from the party high command about commenting on political issues. I do not cross boundaries drawn by the high command."