Gabbard responds to criticism for wearing BJP scarf: 'Somebody put something around my neck and snapped a picture'

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardProgressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for 'problematic' crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition YouTube rival Rumble strikes deals with Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald MORE (D-Hawaii) is pushing back against criticism of her supposed support for India's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), telling a town hall audience that such attacks are prompted by religious bigotry.

At a New Hampshire town hall on Sunday, the 2020 candidate for president was questioned by an audience member about whether she had financially supported the BJP, which Gabbard denied, over a picture of her appearing next to BJP supporters while wearing a scarf with the party's logo.

"Sometimes, as we're standing ... people come up and they want to take a picture. Somebody put something around my neck and snapped a picture without my knowing what it was," she said.

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"That's the reality of ... that's what happened in the picture," Gabbard continued, before adding, "Any implication or accusation or efforts to elicit some kind of suspicion about me or my motives can only be attributed to religious bigotry because I'm a practicing Hindu."

Gabbard has faced criticism in the past for attending events hosted by the Overseas Friends of the BJP over the pro-Hindu nationalist views of India's current ruling political party.

Gabbard, who has also taken heat for sitting down with Syrian President Bashar Assad, failed to qualify for December's Democratic primary debate and currently sits in the single digits in New Hampshire and other early voting states. Her criticism of establishment Democrats, particularly 2016 White House nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE, has led some to fear that should could mount a third-party bid, a claim Gabbard has denied.