Sonali Phogat -- the BJP's Haryana candidate -- apologised today after her comment that the votes of those who can't say "Bharat Mata ki Jai" are of "no value", triggered a huge controversy ahead of elections in the state.
"I apologise if I have hurt someone's sentiments... all I wanted was to tell them that we should say 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' to give respect to our nation," the actor-turned politician -- who has a huge following on the video sharing app TikTok -- was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
A video of the comment that was widely circulated, showed the 40-year-old asking residents of Haryana's Balsamand village to repeat the "Bharat Mata ki Jai" slogan at the beginning of her address.
When some failed to respond, she lashed out at them, saying they should be ashamed of themselves.
"Are you all from Pakistan? If you are Indian then say Bharat Mata ki Jai," she is heard saying in the video.
When some still fail to comply, she is heard saying, "I am ashamed of you all... that there are Indians like you... Those who can't say Jai for their nation, for the sake of petty politics... Those who can't say 'Bharat Mata Ki jai' their votes are of no value".
The former actor is challenging Congress candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi in his family bastion Adampur on the state election, due on October 21. Mr Bishnoi is the son of former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, who represented the seat nine times in the state assembly.
Elections for the 90-member Assembly seat of Haryana will be conducted on October 21, along with Maharashtra, and the results will be declared on October 24.
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