BJP chief Amit Shah today defended the party's decision to field Pragya Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blasts case, as a Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal against Congress's Digvijaya Singh. The candidacy of the saffron-robed right-wing activist, who calls herself a Sadhvi (ascetic) has been challenged in court by the father of one of the six men who died in the serial blasts of 2006.
Around a 100 people were also injured in the blasts and Pragya Thakur, while being cleared of the charges under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act or MCOCA, is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Many have accused the BJP of trying to polarize the voters through her candidature.
"It is absolutely a right decision. The allegations against her are baseless. Nothing against her or Swami Aseemanad have been proved," Amit Shah told reporters at a media conference in Bengal.
Claiming that the "real culprits" were let off after being arrested, Amit Shah said questions should be asked why they were released.
Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended Pragya Thakur's candidature, saying it was a symbolic answer to all those who falsely labelled the rich Hindu civilization as "terrorist".
The BJP chief's comment came in the wake of the party leadership's four-hour meeting with Pragya Thakur, during which, sources said, she was asked to "avoid provocative statements".
Since joining the BJP last week and being named a candidate for the national elections, Pragya Thakur received two notices from the Election Commission due to her controversial comments that have evoked widespread outrage and are seen as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
In an interview to television channel TV9 over the weekend, the 48-year-old said she was among the people who demolished the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, and she was "proud" of it.
Days before, she claimed she had "cursed" Hemant Karkare, the police officer who died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
The comments had been widely condemned, but while Pragya Thakur has withdrawn the remark about Karkare, she said she stood by her comments on the Babari Masjid demolition.
In her reply to the Election Commission, she said the comment was not a violation of the Model Code of Conduct -- a series of do's and don'ts for ahead of elections and said her comments were taken out of context - and they were just taken out of context.