Congress's Digvijaya Singh today took a swipe at the BJP's Pragya Thakur, his rival from the Bhopal parliamentary seat, saying had she "cursed" terror chief Masood Azhar, surgical strikes across the Line of Control would not have been required. Pragya Thakur - an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case -said she had "cursed" police officer Hemant Karkare, and that he died shortly after in the line of duty during the 26/11 terror attacks.
Masood Azhar's terror group Jaish-e Mohammad has claimed responsibility for the February 14 suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, in which 40 soldiers died. Days later, the Indian Air Force conducted air strikes on the Jaish terror camp at Balakot, both of which have been invoked multiple times by various BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At an election rally today, Digvijaya Singh said: "Pragya Thakur says she had cursed ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who had made supreme sacrifice for the country and is considered a martyr. There would have been no need of surgical strikes if she had cursed Masood Azhar."
"I had told him (Hemant Karkare) you will be finished, and he was killed by terrorists in less than two months," Pragya Thakur had bragged at a press conference.
But following a huge backlash, she had backtracked, admitting that Hemant Karkare was a "martyr". Her party distanced itself from the comment, saying it was "personal" and might have been influenced by the torture she faced in jail after her arrest in the Malegaon blasts. The 48-year-old had claimed that Hemant Karkare had been one of the officers responsible for the torture.
Many central BJP leaders and Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the fielding of Pragya Thakur as the BJP candidate from Bhopal. The Prime Minister said 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."
Taking on the Prime Minister, Digvijaya Singh said: "PM Modi had said that terrorists were hunted even when they were hiding in hell. But I want to ask him where was he when Pulwama, Pathankot and Uri terror attacks happened in the country. Why we were not able to get rid of such attacks?"
The Congress veteran further said that Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Christians are brothers. "These people say Hindus should get united as they are in danger. I want to tell them that this country was ruled by Muslims for 500 years. No harm was done to any religion. Be careful of those people who sell religion," he said.
"In our religion, we say 'Har Har Mahadev'. But our religious sentiments were hurt by the BJP when they say 'Har Har Modi'. We all know whose photo will appear on the screen if we type ''feku'' (liar) on Google," he added.
Targeting former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the Bhopal Congress candidate said: "Mama got scared when my candidature from Bhopal was announced. Uma Bharti refused to contest, Gaur said he is not well. However, just a day before the last date of filing nominations, they (BJP) announced the candidature of Pragya Thakur from Bhopal."
Bhopal votes on May 12 in penultimate phase. The counting of votes will be held on May 23.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)