Lok Sabha Polls: ‘Controversial’ Much? BJP Drops Sadhvi Pragya in MP, Retains Ajay Mishra Teni in UP – News18

Lok Sabha Polls: ‘Controversial’ Much? BJP Drops Sadhvi Pragya in MP, Retains Ajay Mishra Teni in UP – News18

Union minister Ajay Mishra will contest 2024 Lok Sabha elections from UP’s Kheri while Sadhvi Pragya Thakur was dropped as a candidate from MP’s Bhopal. (Image: PTI/ANI)

If the BJP wanted to send out a message by dropping Pragya Singh Thakur, this was somehow lost in the candidature of union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son allegedly ran over protesting farmers in 2021

Both are controversial, but the BJP has dropped Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur from their candidate list for the Lok Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal while deciding to repeat Ajay Mishra Teni from Kheri in Uttar Pradesh. If the saffron party wanted to send out a message by dropping Pragya, this was somehow lost in the candidature of Teni, whose son allegedly ran over protesting farmers in 2021.

Why is Sadhvi Pragya controversy’s child?

Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts at the time, won the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by a big margin of 3,64,822 votes from Bhopal constituency. But, she is not new to controversies.

In the run-up to the 2019 polls, she compared Ashok Chakra awardee and former Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare to Ravan and Kans. She attributed his death in the Mumbai terror attacks to her curse for being arrested in connection with the Malegaon case. The Election Commission of India (ECI) had sent her a show-cause notice at the time even as the BJP distanced itself from her.

But, that was not the end of it. She soon triggered another political storm when she called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a “deshbhakt”. “Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot, and will remain a patriot… those who call him a terrorist should look within… they will get a reply this election,” she had said, making even Prime Minister Narendra Modi call it “bhayankar kharab”.

Even after her apology, the prime minister had famously said: “It’s a different matter that she has apologised, I will not be able to forgive her from my heart.”

But Thakur again made comments praising Godse in Parliament in November 2020. A fiery opposition forced BJP national presdient JP Nadda to say, “We have decided that she will be removed from the consultative committee on defence, and will not be allowed to participate in the parliamentary party meetings this session.”

There was a buzz that she may not be repeated in 2024 to send out a strong message to everyone in the party as reported earlier by News18. As BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde read out the 195 names on Saturday, it was clear that this was more than a buzz.

What is Teni’s tryst with controversy?

Teni, meanwhile, has made the cut despite his long tryst with controversies as Tawde named him to be the candidate from Kheri.

Back in September 2021, the union minister had made a provocative statement against the farmers’ protests following which several of them gathered around his house in Kheri’s Tikunia district. He is reported to have said: “Face me, it will take just two minutes to discipline you fellows…The day I accept a challenge, you all will have to leave not only Palia (a local area) but Lakhimpur itself.”

What followed was a demonstration against this statement when Teni and Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya were expected to pass through that area. But, his son Ashish Mishra alias Monu allegedly mowed down protesting farmers and also opened fire at them, killing eight.

According to the FIR, the episode was “premeditated” for which the “conspiracy was hatched” by Teni and his son. While police conceded that Monu opened fire, they claimed that he was not driving.

This sparked a nationwide protest demanding Teni’s removal from the council of ministers and his son’s arrest. This had also prompted BJP MP Varun Gandhi to urge Prime Minister Modi to take strict action against the minister.

In 2022, only a year later, he made insinuations and compared farmers to dogs. “Dogs often bark and chase after fast cars. Every time I go to Lucknow, I see this happening. You can’t do anything about it, it is their tendency,” he said. He had even called farmer leader Rakesh Tikait “do kaudi ka aadmi” (a man worth two pennies).

The BJP’s confidence that Teni, despite his background, will be re-elected seems to stem from the Ram Mandir fervour that has gripped Uttar Pradesh.

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