Row over Pragya Thakur‘s name in defence panel

Controversial Bharatiya Janata Party MP Pragya Thakur and three-time chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, who is detained under the stringent Public Safety Act, have been named to the 21-member joint consultative committee of parliament on defence.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be chairing the committee, which will comprise 12 members from Lok Sabha and 9 from Rajya Sabha.

Thakur, a first-time MP from Bhopal, is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, and is currently out on bail. She is facing trial for multiple charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

 

Minister of State for Defence Shripad Yesso Naik, BJP‘s J P Nadda and Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar are also members of the panel, according to a notification issued by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

Abdullah was placed under house arrested on August 5 after the Centre announced the withdrawal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, besides bifurcating it into two union territories. The Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Parliamentary seat was slapped with the controversial Public Safety Act on September 17.

Thakur‘s nomination to the panel has triggered a political row as Congress attacked the government, saying it was unfortunate for the country that an MP accused of “spreading terror” has been nominated as member of a defence-related committee.

“‘Modi has not been able to forgive her from the heart‘ but she has been given the responsibility on important issues such as the country‘s defence. That is why if there is Modi, anything is possible,” tweeted Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

The Bombay high court granted Thakur bail on health grounds in April 2017 after the National Investigation Agency dropped charges against her under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.

The consultative committee also includes Trinamool Congress’s Sougata Roy and DMK‘s A Raja. Besides the 21 MPs, the committee also has Arjun Ram Meghwal and V Muraleedharan, both junior ministers for parliamentary affairs, as its ex-officio members.

Thakur, the Bhopal MP, has often hogged headlines for her controversial statements.

She stoked a controversy when she claimed that Mahatma Gandhi‘s assassin Nathuram Godse was a “patriot”. Though she apologised for the remark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he would never forgive Thakur for the comment. The MP was issued a show-cause notice by BJP ahead of the 2019 general election.

She previously earned the opposition ire when she claimed that then Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare was killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks due to her “curse”.

She had also attributed the deaths of Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley to ‘marak shakti‘ (killing power) used by BJP‘s political adversaries. 

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