Pragya Thakur, the candidate the BJP pitted against Congress's Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal, has been issued another notice from the Election Commission - the second in a row -- over her controversial comments on the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. Admitting that she received the notice, which quoted the rule against "creating mutual hatred or cause tension between different communities", Pragya Thakur said she "stands by" what she said.
The 48-year-old is an accused in the Malegaon blast case -- in which six people died and around 100 were injured in 2006 -- under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. She is currently out on bail and her candidature has been challenged in court by the father of one of the men who died in the blast.
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 had said.
Today, after receiving the notice, Pragya Thakur 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".
In her written response, she denied violating 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.
Since her induction into the BJP and nomination from Bhopal last week, Pragya Thakur has raised a political storm with a string of controversial comments. Earlier, she said 26/11 hero Hemant Karkare had died at the hands of terrorists after she "cursed" him -- drawing the first notice from the Election Commission on Friday.
"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 at the execrable words.
Amid a huge backlash from the opposition, the BJP had distanced itself, saying her comments 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 the torture.
Pragya Thakur, too, had backtracked, admitting that Hemant Karkare was a "martyr".
"If my remarks made enemies happy, then I take my words back, and I apologise too. Our remarks shouldn't make enemies happy. The pain I went through, it can't be reversed but terrorists killed Hemant Karkare, he certainly is a martyr," she had said.
The Congress has questioned whether the BJP will take action against her as she is "not fit to contest elections".
"The BJP and PM Modi should clarify because they have always said that since the matter is in the Supreme Court, they won't say anything... The Election Commission has already issued a notice. Now, PM Modi should either apologise or clarify the party's stand," said Congress spokesman Manak Agarwal said.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had defended her candidature, repeating the party's stance. 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", he had said.
Bhopal, where elections will be held on May 12, has been a BJP stronghold for nearly three decades. Digvijaya Singh is contesting the seat this time after a dare from Chief Minister Kamal Nath to take up the state's toughest seat.