Amid the controversy created by Malegaon blast-accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur's statements on slain Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis defended the party's decision to field Sadhvi Pragya from the crucial Bhopal constituency for the ongoing Lok Sabha election.
In an exclusive interview with Network18's Vinaya Deshpande, Fadnavis justified Pragya's candidature saying that "if Congress president Rahul Gandhi can contest the election despite being out on bail himself, Pragya can too".
He claimed that Pragya had been given a "clean chit" from the National Investigating Agency (NIA), but Rahul was "still an accused" out on bail. "There can't be any discrimination in crimes. If Sadhvi is an accused, Rahul Gandhi is an accused too. How can he fight elections if you say Sadhvi can't? Don't talk of double standards," Fadnavis said.
However, Fadnavis clarified that he didn't support her statement on Karkare. On Friday, Pragya, who was addressing a gathering as part of her election campaign said that Karkare had died because he had been "cursed" for his investigation into the Malegaon case.
"We don't support Sadhvi's statement," he said, adding, "Hemant Karkare was a heroic officer. He sacrificed his life for the country."
Karkare, whose investigation into the Malegaon blast case first introduced the terms 'Hindu terror' and 'saffron terror', was in 2008 accused of conducting a "biased" probe by several BJP and other Hindutva leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Fadnavis echoed the sentiments of the party regarding the issue of 'Hindu terror' and blamed the Congress for a "false narrative".
He said, "There is no Hindu terror. This was a false narrative built by the previous government. There is no place for terror in Hinduism. Those who are terrorists are not Hindus."
Pragya is a prime accused in the Malegaon blast case that killed at least six people.
Fadnavis' statement on Pragya came soon after Modi's explanation on fielding her as a candidate for the Lok Sabha polls. Modi had also said that fielding Pragya was a symbolic answer to those who had described Hindus as “terrorists”.
Slamming the previous Congress governments in Maharashtra and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Fadnavis said that the Congress is the "B Team" of Pawar in Maharashtra.
He said that the Congress and NCP, who have formed an alliance for the General Election, should "introspect" about why "young leaders" were attracted to Modi's leadership. "Young Turks of political dynasts in Maharashtra are getting attracted to BJP," he said.
He also took a dig at Pawar, saying that he would have a "hearty laugh before going to bed" about Pawar's comment that he doesn't have money for campaigning and while the BJP does. "It is the biggest joke of the century," Fadnavis said.
The Maharashtra chief minister also spoke about former Congress national spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi resigning from the Congress alleging inaction against party workers who had "misbehaved" with her. Chaturvedi quit the Congress on Friday and joined the Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra, the same day.
Fadnavis said, "Priyanka Chaturvedi was disappointed after seeing the true nature of Congress, so she joined Shiv Sena. She was in the wrong place. She was trying to do the right thing in the wrong place. Now, she is in the right place." He also said that Chaturvedi will campaign for the BJP.
Addressing the issue of agrarian distress, which has seen multiple large scale protests from farmers in the past year and which is also a major talking point in the Congress' campaign against the BJP, Fadnavis said that the agricultural issues "will not affect" the party electorally. "People have seen our sincere efforts. There won’t be a 2004-like situation in the country now. These are Opposition’s ‘Mungerilal ke hanseen sapne’."
Fadvanis also asserted that an alliance with its vocally critical ally, the Shiv Sena, was the the "parties' DNA".
"Hindutva binds us together," he said.
Updated Date: Apr 22, 2019 17:22:03 IST