BJP Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur found herself under sharp attack from an unexpected quarter on Monday. Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar, who was in Bhopal to take part in a function organised by a volunteer organisation, termed Thakur a “Hindu terror suspect” and said wearing a saffron robe has not given her any special powers.
“Terrorism has no religion but terrorists do have one. Anyone, including Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists can be accused of acts of violence and terrorism. Pragya Thakur considers herself a Hindu and is facing terror charges, so she is a Hindu terror suspect,” the actress said.
“Merely putting on a “bhagwa” or a saffron robe does not make one a saint. I would also put on a bhagwa sari today and would like to be called ‘Sadhvi Swara Bhaskar’, is that possible?” the outspoken actress added.
Thakur has courted several controversies lately with her statements and have been issued notices by the Election Commission for violating the Model Code of Conduct.
Soon after being announced as the Bhopal candidate, she had said that Mumbai Anti-terror Squad chief Karkare died during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks as she had “cursed” him for torturing her. Thakur had also said that she was among those who had razed the Babri mosque.
“The statements are nothing but attempts to tamper with Hindus and Hindu religion and being a Hindu I feel bad that worst violence in unleased on the name of religion,” Bhaskar said. “I am sad that people commit crimes and later chant lord Ram’s name to hide their sins. It’s an insult to the Hindu religion and those who are followers of this religion should feel offended,” Bhaskar said.
The actress had campaigned for former student leader and CP’s Begusarai candidate, Kanhaiya Kumar, in April, which made her an easy target for right-wing trolls on Twitter and she was labelled as being part of the ‘tukde-tukde gang’.
Speaking in Bhopal on Monday, the actress said those who plan terror attacks on the country belong to the ‘tukde-tukde’ category. “There is one candidate in Bhopal who is accused of terror attacks, which means an attempt to disrupt peace and tranquility and disrupting law and order of the government. I guess this qualifies for ‘tukde-tukde’ allegations.”
The actress also refuted allegations of making derogatory remarks about the security forces and blamed the fake news circulators of attributing “fake and distasteful” comments to her on social media.
“My father had retired from Indian Navy and I grew up on the ration offered by India Army,” said Bhaskar, adding that she never ever made any adverse remarks on the defence forces.
The actress claimed she had, in reality, spoken on Dalit atrocities in Una but miscreants quoted her views out of context. “This has been a problem on social media since the last few years… people use my pictures and attribute fake statements to me.”
Making an indirect reference at the deadly Mandsaur firing of 2018, Bhaskar asked if killing of farmers who raise their voice is it justified.
Six farmers were killed in June last year after Madhya Pradesh policemen and jawans from the CRPF opened fire on a group of farmers protesting in Mandasaur. The farmers were protesting over a demand for better crop prices as well as loan waivers.
Asked if she identifies with the Congress ideologically, Bhaskar said she would stand for whichever party emphasises on constitutional values. “I like ideological similarities with Congress election manifesto as it talks about jobs, social and economic justice and issues of Dalits, minorities and brotherhood. It’s against violence and the vision is for every citizen, irrespective of his/her caste, creed or religion,” she said.
The 31-year-old said a leader who believes in the constitution would make for a good Prime Minister. Asked if she finds that potential in Congress president Rahul Gandhi, she said, “He is constantly talking about the constitution, unity, about youths, farmers and I think it’s a good thing. If he becomes Prime Minister with this ideology, he can be a good PM.”