Lucknow: Amid the row over Lord Hanuman’s identity, now a Uttar Pradesh minister has said the deity was a sportsperson. While refusing to join his BJP colleagues in identifying the God’s caste, UP Sports Minister Chetan Chauhan, a former cricketer, said Hanuman ji was a sportsperson indeed. (Also read: Akhilesh Yadav Asks Yogi to Reveal Castes of Other Gods Too)

“Hanumanji was a devta, a God and I consider him as God and I worship him.. I am a sportsman and all sportsmen worship power… Humunanji was a symbol of power and strength… He also used to do wrestling and was a sportsman… all wrestlers worship him,” Chauhan said in Amroha.

He added, “There is no caste of Gods and saints…Similarly, for me Hanumanji is a God… I do not want to divide him on caste lines.”

The entire debate over Hanuman ji’s caste began when during a campaign for state elections in Rajasthan, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath kicked up a storm by calling Lord Hanuman a Dalit, following which several leaders of his party joined in.

Adityanath had said Hanuman was a tribal and a Dalit. “Bajrang Bali worked to connect all Indian communities together, from north to south and east to west,” he had said.

Following this, a minister in his Cabinet, Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary had said Hanuman was a Jat for turning up to help those in trouble without even knowing the real issue.

BJP lawmaker Bukkal Nawab went on to call the Hindu deity a Muslim. His reasoning? Muslim names like Rehman, Farman and Zishan were similar to Hanuman, unlike other Hindu names.

The BJP has faced criticism from the Opposition with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav asking Adityanath to reveal castes of other Gods too.

BJP ally Shiv Sena has also hit out at the saffron party on the issue. “Although a Ram temple is yet to be constructed in Ayodhya, a debate has started in the BJP over the caste of Hanuman. What is the point in debating the religion and caste of Lord Hanuman?” the Sena asked in an editorial in ‘Saamna’.