Pratap Chandra Sarangi, 64, who won the Balasore parliamentary seat in Odisha on a BJP ticket has been appointed as Minister of State in two of Modi’s ministries: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries.
Several Twitter users, including senior journalists, cheered and praised his austere lifestyle. One viral tweet said he was “known as Odisha’s Modi”. Sarangi even campaigned on a bicycle during the election.
Many newspapers also went overboard and called him a social media hero because of his austere life. Because most of our ministers flaunt their wealth, arrive in foreign cars and hob-nob with the rich, we are willing to adopt and praise anyone who hasn’t trodden that path.
Seven Criminal Cases Against Him
In his election affidavit, it is mentioned that he has seven criminal cases against him. The charges against him include criminal intimidation, rioting, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, and extortion
Many of these cases were filed during the BJP-BJD alliance government in Odisha.
In March 2002, when Sarangi was state president of the Bajrang Dal – a hardline Hindu youth group affiliated with the RSS – he was arrested by Odisha police on charges of rioting, arson, assault and damaging government property.
The government property in question was the Odisha legislative assembly building, which had been attached by a mob of 500, armed with tridents and lathis, led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Durga Vahini and the Bajrang Dal.
The mob was demanding that disputed land in Ayodhya be handed over for the construction of a Ram temple.
More damningly, in January 1999, Saranagi was chief of the Bajrang Dal in Odisha when Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, aged 11 and 7, were burnt alive by a group of men with links to the Bajrang Dal.
Staines and his sons were sleeping in a station wagon in the village of Manoharpur in Keonjhar when the vehicle was set on fire.
A 2003 report in Frontline says that a commission appointed by the central government had not even examined the role of the Bajrang Dal because it was not an illegal organisation, suggesting that legal organisations could not plan or carry out such heinous crimes.
Sarangi, the report said, had denied the involvement of Bajrang Dal activists in the incident and had not even been cross-examined.
Who Was Graham Staines?
Graham Staines was a Christian missionary who worked with leprosy patients in Mayurbhanj district in Odisha for nearly 30 years. He had come to India from Australia in 1965 and had never left the country. The family had opened a leprosy home in Baripada and his work among adivasis and lepers was well-known. News of his death caused distraught to those who knew him in Baripada, according to India Today.
Sarangi now holds two portfolios—he is Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as well as Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries
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