NDA minister says ATS had proof against Pragya Thakur
On Sunday, NDA minister and Republican Party of India (RPI) President Ramdas Athawale criticized BJP's decision to field Pragya Thakur from Bhopal and stressed that Anti-Terrorism Squad had proof against her. Pragya, a key accused in Malegaon blast case of 2008, was given ticket by BJP earlier this month to battle Congress' veteran Digvijaya Singh in the poll arena. Here's more.
Athawale said Karkare had enough evidence against Pragya
About Pragya, Athawale said, "Her name had figured in the Malegaon case and Hemant Karkare (former Maharashtra ATS chief) had enough evidence against her." To recall, Pragya had said Karkare died because she 'cursed' him while being in custody. She later retracted her statement after facing ire. Athawale slammed Pragya's take on Karkare too and reminded he died fighting terrorists.
Would not have fielded her: Athawale
"Karkare was martyred while fighting terrorists to save people. I don't agree with Sadhvi's statement on Karkare. We condemn it. It is for the court to decide what is right and what is wrong... If left to our party, we would not have fielded her," Athawale said.
Meanwhile, Athawale is confident NDA will get 350+ seats
Athawale's party has fielded candidates in Jabalpur, Satna, Ratlam, Morena, and Sidhi of Madhya Pradesh. The minister of state for social justice and empowerment said his party will support BJP candidates on the remaining 24 seats. When asked about prospects, Athawale claimed NDA would win more than 350 seats. He hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi would give him "good ministerial post" later.
Interestingly, Athawale is not supporting NDA on one Kerala seat
Notably, this is not the first time Athawale took a different stand than BJP. Last week, he declared that he would be lending support to an independent candidate in Kerala, who is contesting against BJP leader. Athawale is supporting Nusrat Jahan when BJP has fielded KP Prakash Babu in Kozhikode Lok Sabha constituency. In the remaining 19 constituencies, Athawale is supporting NDA, he clarified.
Separately, Uma Bharati praised Pragya
As BJP has played the Hindutva card with Pragya's candidature, Uma Bharti believes this will turn fruitful. Praising Pragya, Uma said she is not as great a saint as Pragya is. "Pragya is a great saint. How can I compare to her? I am an ordinary, foolish kind of creature," she said, and stressed that Pragya heads a peeth and is mahamandaleshwar.