Pragya Thakur, Azam Khan, Moon Moon Sen: The motormouths who made headlines with their views

From east to west and north to south, a battery of candidates across the political spectrum demonstrated a penchant for getting into trouble with their views on a range of issues.

Published: 22nd May 2019 04:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd May 2019 04:27 PM   |  A+A-

Sadhvi Pragya Thakur

Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Call them motor-mouths or simply contentious, they are the not-to-be-quietened candidates who kept up the controversial chatter through the Lok Sabha elections, sometimes at rallies and other times through social media posts or responses to questions from the media.

From east to west and north to south, a battery of candidates across the political spectrum demonstrated a penchant for getting into trouble with their views on a range of issues.

Some like Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan and Bharatiya Janata Party's Giriraj Singh are old time 'foot-in-the-mouth' politicians, frequently in the headlines for their outspoken and sometimes outrageous views, others like BJP's Pragya Singh Thakur and Communist Party of India's Kanhaiya Kumar are new to the election game.

They stoked controversy during the high-voltage campaign, at times forcing the Election Commission to bar some of them from campaigning or inviting scrutiny from their own party's leadership.

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Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case who is contesting elections from Bhopal, last week lauded Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse as a "patriot", sparking furious debate in the last lap of the seven-phase elections.

The Congress alleged that "insulting martyrs is in the DNA" of the BJP, which also condemned her remarks. Thakur later apologised for her remarks.

She also had to apologise for her remarks on 26/11 attack martyr, IPS officer Hemant Karkare, that she had "cursed" him for torturing her and falsely implicating her in the blasts case.

Thakur was temporarily banned from campaigning for her hate remarks by the Election Commission.

Her electoral rival, Congress' Digvijay Singh, is not new to controversies either.

In March this year, just as the country was gearing up for elections, he said the Pulwama terror attack was an accident.

In Uttar Pradesh, SP's Khan attracted widespread ire for his sexist jibes against his one-time colleague, actor-politician Jaya Prada, who is his rival in the Rampur seat and joined the BJP recently.

People of Rampur, people of Uttar Pradesh and people of India, it took you 17 years to understand her reality. But I could recognise in 17 days that she wears khaki underwear," he said without naming her.

Khan is facing an FIR for the remark.

Jaya Prada, on her part, hit back with a speech in which she referred to Khan's "X-ray eyes". "Considering the comments Azam Khan makes against me, (BSP chief) Mayawati, his X-ray like eyes will also stare at you," she said at a public meeting.

Bihar saw a face-off between two ideologically opposed candidates  Giriraj Singh and Kanhaiya Kumar in Begusarai.

"Those who cannot say Vande Mataram or cannot respect the motherland, the nation will never forgive them, he said in a rally in remarks seen as attacking the Muslim community.

In March, the veteran BJP leader was reported as saying those not attending the rally of the prime minister, to be held that month, would be deemed anti-national.

He, however, himself remained absence from that very rally.

His rival Kanhaiya Kumar, a former student leader from Jawaharlal Nehru University who was charged with sedition for allegedly making anti-India comments, said on Twitter, For BJP people Godse is a patriot. They are expected to call people like us as traitor. Thank god BJP doesn't consider us patriots. In the South, Nalin Kumar Kateel, the BJP's candidate and sitting MP from Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka, dove into the Godse controversy by comparing the assassin with with Rajiv Gandhi.

"Godse killed one, Kasab killed 72, Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000. You judge who is more cruel in this??" Kateel tweeted, equating Godse, 26/11 convict Ajmal Kasab and Rajiv Gandhi.

He later retracted his remarks.

The BJP reprimanded him as well as Union minister Anantkumar Hegde, its candidate in Uttara Kannada in the state, who also tweeted on Godse but later deleted it.

BJP's young leader Tejasvi Surya, contesting from Karnataka's Bangalore South constituency, also made several controversial statements over the last one year, retracting some and deleting some.

Oh Hindus! When will you understand that a vote to today's Congress is a vote for yesterday's Muslim League? It's sad that this country treats a patriot like Veer Savarkar, who endured the greatest of pains for the motherland, in this manner. 2019 has so much at stake! he tweeted recently.

On a lighter note, Trinamool Congress' Asansol candidate Moonmoon Sen found herself wading in troubled waters when she was asked about the violence in the constituency on voting day.

"They gave me my bed tea very late so I woke up very late. What can I say? I really don't know," the actor-politician told the media.

BJP's Gurdaspur candidate, Bollywood star Sunny Deol, had a somewhat similar response when he was asked about the Balakot strikes, saying he didn't know much but only wanted to serve the people.

The counting of votes on May 23 will decide the fate of these candidates, irrepressible, irreverent and simply controversial.

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