- Pragya Thakur is the BJP candidate for Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal
- She was one of the main accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts
- She has made headlines because of controversial comments
Pragya Thakur, the BJP candidate for Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal in the national election, was called to the party office on Sunday and asked to "avoid provocative statements", sources said today.
Pragya Thakur, who wears saffron robes and calls herself a "sadhvi", was at the BJP office for almost four hours. She was reportedly told to steer clear of controversial statements - she has received Election Commission notices for two already - but stick to stories of her alleged torture in jail.
One of the main accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts Pragya Thakur is taking on Congress's Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal, a seat that has voted BJP since 1989. Many accuse the BJP of trying to polarize voters by fielding her.
Since she joined the BJP last week and was immediately named an election candidate, Pragya Thakur has made headlines because of comments that have been widely condemned and have even left her own party leaders squirming.
In an interview to television channel TV9 over the weekend, Pragya Thakur said she was among the people who demolished the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 and she was "proud" of it.
"We had removed a blot from the country. We had gone to demolish the structure. I climbed atop the structure and broke it and I feel extremely proud that God gave me this opportunity. We will make sure that a Ram Temple is built at that site," Pragya Thakur said.
She was served notice for "creating mutual hatred or cause tension between different communities", but unfazed, she said she "stands by" what she said. "Yes, I had gone there, I had said it yesterday too, not denying it. I had demolished the structure. I will go there and help in the construction of the Ram temple, nobody can stop us from doing that," she said.
Before that, she declared that she had "cursed" Hemant Karkare, a celebrated officer who died fighting terrorists in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
"I had told him you will be finished, and he was killed by terrorists in less than two months," Pragya Thakur had bragged at a press conference on Thursday, flanked by BJP leaders who clapped.
Hemant Karkare, as Maharashtra's anti-terror chief, was among the first officers to investigate the 48-year-old in the Malegaon blasts -- in which six people died and around 100 were injured in 2008. A National Investigation Agency (NIA) court dropped stringent charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act but the trial court retained charges against her under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. She is currently out on bail, on health grounds, and her candidature has been challenged in court by the father of one of the men who died in the blast.
Amid a huge backlash from the opposition, the BJP had distanced itself from her Hemant Karkare comments, saying those were "personal" and might have been influenced by the torture she faced in jail after her arrest in the Malegaon blasts. The saffron-wearing right-wing activist had said Hemant Karkare had been one of the officers responsible for her torture.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended fielding Pragya Thakur, saying it was a symbolic answer to all those who falsely labelled the rich Hindu civilization as "terrorist" and asserted that "this symbol will prove costly for the Congress".
Bhopal will vote on May 12 in the election that will end on May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.