Stating that worship on Vijayadashami was an integral part of Indian culture, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday hit out at those who criticised Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s shashtra puja (worship of weapons) while receiving the first Rafale jet, and said there was nothing superstitious about it. “It was something that was done on Vijayadashami. He marked it [the Rafale jet] with the ‘Om’ symbol. So what is wrong? Everyone worships in some form or the other in this country based on whichever faith they belong to,” she said.Ms. Sitharaman was speaking to reporters in Pune as part of BJP’s election campaign. The Union Finance Minister said that following the criticism over the puja, many social media users had come up with videos showing how an earlier Defence Minister while taking charge of a naval ship, had marked it with a symbol of his religion.She was referring to A.K. Antony’s drawing a ‘cross’ on INS Vikrant during its launch ceremony. “At that time, how many of us were concerned with superstition or blind faith… Similar things [pujas] have happened during earlier regimes in India and also take place across the world,” Ms. Sitharaman said, adding, “Those who have faith, perform worship and that a puja is accorded importance in Indian culture.”“I, too, keep my books and my veena on Saraswati puja,” she added. Auto sectorIn response to questions on the slowdown in the automobile sector, the Finance Minister said she had been regularly interacting with representatives from the automobile sector all over the country and was ready to hold talks with members of other industries as well to accommodate their demands“They [auto sector representatives] have already met me twice in Delhi… While it is true that consumer demand has not revived yet for the automobile sector, they can always talk to me if they want anything particular,” she said.While acknowledging that more steps needed to be taken to revive consumer demand, Ms. Sitharaman said that the Central government was responsive and that changes would be effected as needed.While the Finance Minister praised Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ government in the State, she conceded that more efforts needed to be made to resolve the issue of water scarcity.“Mr. Fadnavis has comprehensively addressed the issue of water shortage in Maharashtra,” Ms. Sitharaman said, adding at the same time that the issue of water shortage needed more time and effort.When asked as to how the matter of the withdrawal of Article 370 from Kashmir was relevant in a State election, she replied that it the abrogation of Article 370 was matter of pride for every Indian and claimed that “not a single bullet had been fired in Kashmir” since then.