BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur’s move to modify her oath by attaching the name of her spiritual guru as a suffix to her own name stirred a controversy in the opening session of the 17th Lok Sabha on Monday. With Opposition members raising objection, pro-tem Speaker Virendra Kumar ruled that only the name written on Thakur’s election certificate will get recorded.
The Bhopal MP’s slogan “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, with which she ended her oath, however, caught on, and some BJP members sworn in after her repeated it, despite protests by Opposition MPs that the oath-taking should be adhered to the form prescribed in the Third Schedule of Constitution.
Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blasts, took oath in Sanskrit and mentioned the name of Swami Purna Chetnanand Avdheshanand Giri as suffix to her own. This prompted Congress MPs Kodikkunnil Suresh, Benny Behnan and Hibi Eden, along with RSP member N K Premachandran, to raise objections. Amid protests, Thakur maintained that that is her full name, and she had mentioned it in the form that needs to be filled before taking oath.
Raising a “point of order”, Premachandran said oath-taking should be in the procedures laid down as per the Third Schedule of Constitution. “You can use the name given in the election declaration certificate only. You are creating new conventions in the House,” he pointed out.
As more Opposition MPs joined him, the pro-tem Speaker assured the House that he would go through the records and remove anything “unofficial”. Kumar added that only name written on the certificate will remain on records.
Premachandran and some Congress MPs also protested against Thakur’s slogan and said that MPs should stick to the prescribed format. When Congress MPs continued their protests, BJP member Nishikant Dubey was heard shouting, “This is not Pakistan’s Parliament; this is the Indian Parliament.”
BJP MPs subsequently repeated the slogan after every MP took oath.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who took oath as the MP from Wayanad, Kerala, had a word with his party colleagues, and is learnt to have asked them against raising objections to the “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” slogan.
Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, defeated veteran Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency. Known for her inflammatory remarks, Thakur courted controversy during the campaign phase when she hailed Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a patriot.
She had also claimed that Maharashtra IPS officer Hemant Karkare was killed by terrorists during the 2008 Mumbai terror attack because of her curse for dragging her into the Malegaon blast case.