Election Watch: Know your 17th Lok Sabha’s most controversial MPs

PW Bureau

Despite indulging in mud-slinging and name-calling in a high-voltage campaign, a lot of these leaders, from Sadhvi Pragya to Azam Khan, have made it to the Parliament

New Delhi: The 2019 General Elections are going to go down in the history of India as an election that saw a number of controversies getting stoked by political leaders from the Left, Right and Centre. What’s more is that despite indulging in mud-slinging and name-calling in a high-voltage campaign, a lot of these leaders, from Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur to Azam Khan, have made it to the Parliament. Who are these leaders and what are the controversies they stirred?

Pragya Singh Thakur

Bharatiya Jananta Party’s (BJP) candidate for Bhopal constituency, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who is an accused in the Malegaon blasts case, courted controversy for calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “patriot.” Previously, she had landed herself in the soup for saying that she had cursed Hemant Karkare, the IPS officer who was killed during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, for torturing her in custody. She was forced to retract both the statements as the party leadership distanced itself from the comment and she was also temporarily banned from campaigning for her hate remarks by the Election Commission. However, Singh won the election and polled 8,66,482 votes in the constituency against her nearest rival Digvijaya Singh of the Congress. Singh got 5,01,279 votes.

Azam Khan

Samjwadi Party’s (SP) Azam Khan, known for being a trouble maker, was in the limelight for a video where he was shown telling his supporters, “Do not be afraid of collectors. They are salaried employees. No one should be scared of the salaried. Have you seen photos of Mayawati, how senior officers used to clean her shoes with their handkerchief? We have an alliance with her. We will make them clean her shoes, if God wishes so.”

He also invited an FIR for making a sexist remark against BJP’s Jaya Prada: “People of Rampur, people of Uttar Pradesh and people of India, it took you 17 years to understand her reality. But I could recognise in 17 days that she wears khaki underwear.”

He won from Rampur constituency by over one lakh votes. He polled 5,59,177 votes against Prada’s 4,49,180 votes.

Giriraj Singh

A video footage of a brief address by BJP’s Giriraj Singh at a rally showed him saying, “I would like to say, Giriraj Singh’s ancestors died and were cremated. You need a yard of land even after you die, for the burial of your mortal remains. If you say you cannot chant Vande Mataram, this nation will never forget you.”

“There are many people who are trying to spread communal passions. We will not allow that to happen anywhere in Bihar including Begusarai. The RJD candidate in Darbhanga recently said he had problems with reciting Vande Mataram,” Singh had said referring to Abdul Bari Siddiqui’s comments.

“In Begusarai too, many can be seen spewing venom wearing bade bhai ka kurta and chhote bhai ka pyjama,” he had said referring to the long shirts and short trousers that are usually associated with devout Muslims.

Singh won from Begusarai by a margin of 4,22,217 votes. His main rival was CPI’s Kanhaiya Kumar, who got 2,69,976 votes against Singh’s 6,92,193 that include 4,616 postal ballots.

Nalin Kumar Kateel

Down South, BJP candidate sitting MP from Dakshina Kannada Nalin Kumar Kateel added ember to the ‘Godse’ fire kindled by Sadhvi Pragya by drawing a comparison between Godse and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. “Godse killed one, Kasab killed 72, Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000. You judge who is more cruel in this??” Kateel tweeted, equating Godse, 26/11 convict Ajmal Kasab and Rajiv Gandhi. He later retracted his comments.

Kateel won from the constituency by a margin of 2,74,621 votes. His main rival Congress’ Mithun M Rai got 4,99,664 votes, whereas the winning candidates Kateel got 7,74,285 votes.

Tejasvi Surya

Another young BJP leader Tejasvi Surya, who contested the elections from Karnataka’s Bangalore South constituency, courted a controversy when he tweeted, “Oh Hindus! When will you understand that a vote to today’s Congress is a vote for yesterday’s Muslim League? It’s sad that this country treats a patriot like Veer Savarkar, who endured the greatest of pains for the motherland, in this manner. 2019 has so much at stake!”

Surya won the seat by polling 7,39,229 votes and defeated Congress’s BK Hariprasad.