BJP MP and Malegaon blast accused Pragya Thakur has been nominated to a parliamentary committee on defence that will be headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The Congress described the move as an “insult to defence forces”.
“Pragya Thakur, a terror accused & Godse fanatic has been nominated by the BJP govt. to be a member of the Parliamentary Panel on Defence. This move is an insult to our nation’s defence forces, to our nation’s esteemed parliamentarians & to every Indian,” the party tweeted.
Pragya Thakur is one of the accused in the Malegaon blasts in 2008 and is currently out on bail which was granted to her on health grounds. She faces multiple charges under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act and the Explosive Substances Act.
Pragya Thakur beat veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh by over 3.6 lakh votes to win Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal.
The first-time MP and the newest member of the 21-member consultative committee on defence often stirs up controversies. Her “tribute” to Nathuram Godse, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, where she called him a “patriot” while campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls sparked furious reactions from all quarters. An embarrassed BJP clarified that those were her “personal remarks”.
BJP chief Amit Shah had also tweeted saying “these comments have nothing to do with the party”.
She did apologise later. But when the opposition demanded an explanation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he could “never forgive her” for her statement.
“These kinds of statements made about Gandhiji are condemnable and cannot be allowed in civilised society. She may have apologised, but I shall never forgive her.”
On another occasion, the BJP had to again distance itself from her when she controversially commented that IPS officer Hemant Karkare died in terror attacks as she had cursed him. Karkare, who headed the Mumbai anti-terror squad, died in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
“The BJP believes that Karkare died while bravely fighting terrorists. The BJP has always considered him a martyr,” the party said in a damage-control exercise.
The BJP added she had suffered “physical and mental torture” for years in police custody that might have caused her to make such a statement.
In July this year, she was rebuked by her own party for telling BJP workers that she “wasn’t elected to get drains and toilets cleaned”.
“We haven’t been elected to clean your drains, ok? We haven’t been elected to clean your toilets, please understand. The work for which I have been elected, I will do honestly, I have said that before and I will say it again,” she told workers in Sehore, which is part of her parliamentary constituency of Bhopal.
The 49-year-old was reportedly responding to a BJP worker complaining about the lack of hygiene and cleanliness in his area.
Six people were killed and over 100 injured on September 29, 2008, when an explosive device strapped to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon.
An NIA court had dropped charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act but a trial court retained those under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.