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Why BJP has excluded Pragya Thakur from MP urban body polls selection committee

BJP had Thursday announced the selection committees for the urban local body elections in MP. Party says it's not mandatory for an MP to be part of committee.

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New Delhi: Days after the Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP excluded MP Pragya Thakur from the party’s Bhopal division selection committee for candidates for next month’s urban local body elections, she took to Twitter to say she’ll continue to “discharge my responsibilities towards my people”.

According to a senior BJP leader, the BJP Thursday announced the selection committees for the urban local body elections in Madhya Pradesh and Thakur’s name was missing from the committee set up at the division level.

Sources said Thakur is upset over her exclusion, as other MPs have been included in other divisions.

In a tweet Sunday, Thakur said, “I accept the party’s decision of not including me in the selection committee. However, voters of eight assembly constituencies voted and chose me as an MP. I will continue to discharge my responsibilities towards my people.”

ThePrint reached Thakur on the phone for comment, but had received no response until the publication of this report.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh BJP media in-charge, Lokendra Parashar, said it is not mandatory for an MP to be part of the committee.

Senior BJP leaders, however, pointed to the MP’s controversial image — including her comments supporting BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s suspension Friday, despite a party order to members to not talk on the subject — to explain her exclusion from the selection panel.

Elections to 16 municipal corporations across Madhya Pradesh, comprising 884 wards, are scheduled to be held in two phases next month.

While the first phase of voting will take place on 6 July, voting in the the second phase is scheduled for 13 July. The counting of the votes will be held on 17 July for the first phase, and 18 July for the second.

The MP unit of the BJP had Thursday announced names of selection committee members for Bhopal, Jabalpur, Rewa, Gwalior, Chambal and Sagar divisions, among others.

While Union minister and MP Jyotiraditya Scindia is part of the committee for Gwalior and Chambal divisions, so is Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Similarly, in the selection committee for the Jabalpur division, MPs Rakesh Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste have been included.

Also read: India’s blasphemy battles—Hindu or Muslim—show reason has succumbed to faith

Courting controversies

Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts in Maharashtra, was fielded from Bhopal by the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections and won the seat.

The MP is, however, no stranger to controversies.

For instance, she was removed from the party’s Parliament defence consultative committee in 2019, after she praised Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse in the Lok Sabha, and was also not allowed to attend the parliamentary party meetings during the winter session.

According to the senior BJP leader quoted above, at most party meetings, Thakur ends up shifting the focus to herself, “which affects the overall functioning of the party”.

“It is not mandatory that an MP is part of the screening committee at the division level. Generally, MPs are kept in these meetings, but there is no compulsion. Other MPs have been included in the committees, it’s true, but at the same time it is also true that she ends up saying something controversial or the other,” the leader said.

“Even on her exclusion she has gone out and posted something on Twitter which should have been avoided.”

The party is also upset with Thakur for her comments on national spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s suspension, following her controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad, ThePrint has learnt.

A second BJP leader told ThePrint that despite party “diktat” to members to not speak on the Nupur Sharma case, Thakur had told reporters that “these non-believers have always done so. They have a communist history… Kamlesh Tiwari (Hindu Samaj Party leader) said something and he was killed (in 2019). Another person (Nupur Sharma) said something and got threat.”

Thakur’s comments came despite the BJP central leadership asking leaders to refrain from criticising any religion, it has been learnt.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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