Sadhvi Pragya Thakur raised eyebrows as she was heard saying that she was not elected to get "drains and toilets cleaned".
The 49-year-old member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was heard making these comments while addressing BJP workers at Sehore in Madhya Pradesh. She was talking to a worker who complained about the lack of sanitation in the area.
#WATCH BJP MP from Bhopal, Pragya Thakur in Sehore: Hum naali saaf karwane ke liye nahi bane hain. Hum aapka shauchalaya saaf karne ke liye bilkul nahi banaye gaye hain. Hum jis kaam ke liye banaye gaye hain, vo kaam hum imaandaari se karenge. #MadhyaPradesh pic.twitter.com/VT4pcGKkYx— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2019
She added: "It is the duty of a Member of Parliament to work in coordination with local public representatives, including local MLAs (legislators) and municipal councillors for the overall development of the constituency... Get your local issues and work done through the local representatives instead of calling me on my phone every now and then."
She said that the role of a representative is to ensure the development and in order to do so, they will have to work with MLAs, corporators, and public representatives. Ensuring clean toilets is apparently not one of her duties.
Thakur's comments go directly against Prime Minister Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan mission to clean up India. PM Modi had previously spoken about building toilets for every household. Most recently, President Ramnath Kovind had said in a speech on July 20, that the aim of the Modi government was to build toilets for all by the 75th independence anniversary.
The inconsiderate comments drew the flak from politicians who called her elitist. AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that these remarks are very casteist. According to India Today, he said, "She is challenging what Prime Minister Modi is trying to preach and is saying that since she hails from an upper caste, those who clean toilets are not her equals."
Congress leader Tariq Anwar said that the prime minister has to take action against her.
Thakur, who is no stranger to controversy, called 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare's death as karma. She also publicly glorified Mahatma Gandhi's killer Nathuram Godse.
Owaisi also said: "She praised Godse and talked about Karkare. She also wants the caste system to be prevalent in India."