The BJP on Sunday suspended its national spokesperson Nupur Sharma after her controversial remarks against Prophet Muhammad. Sharma later unconditionally withdrew the controversial statement made in a TV debate and said it was never her intention to hurt anyone’s religious feelings.
Sharma, who was a BJP national spokesperson, claimed that her comments were a reaction to “continuous insult and disrespect towards our Mahadev” (Lord Shiva) as she could not tolerate it. The remarks, however, invited international criticism as many Gulf countries expressed their condemnation over them.
But who is Nupur Sharma, the leader who has kicked up a row with her statement? News18 takes a look:
Nupur Sharma, an advocate by profession, is a prominent BJP leader and spokesperson. An Economics and Law graduate from Delhi’s Hindu College, she later earned an LLM from the London School of Economics and has been involved in politics since her college days.
Start of Political Career
Sharma was also the President of the Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) on the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) ticket, and her political career began with these organisations.
She also served on the National Executive Committee of the BJP’s youth wing BJYM, as National Media Co-In Charge of the BJYM, as a member of the BJP’s Yuva Working Committee, and as a member of the State Executive Committee, BJP Delhi.
One of the Most Active TV Spokespersons
She was also a Teach for India Youth Ambassador (affiliated with Teach for America). In recent years, Nupur Sharma has been one of the BJP’s most active spokespersons, appearing on numerous television debates.
Contested Against Kejriwal
Sharma was chosen by the BJP to run in the Delhi Assembly Election from the New Delhi constituency against Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal. She did, however, lose the election for the seat.
Withdrawal of Statement and Row Over Remarks
After the controversy over her statements erupted, Sharma clarified on Twitter, “I have been attending TV debates for the past many days where our Mahadev was being insulted and disrespected continuously. It was mockingly being said that it is not Shivling but a fountain. The Shivling was also being ridiculed by comparing it to roadside signs and poles in Delhi.”
She was apparently referring to the claims of Hindu groups about the presence of a Shivling at the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi.
She added, “If my words have caused discomfort or hurt religious feelings of anyone whatsoever, I hereby unconditionally withdraw my statement. It was never my intention to hurt anyone’s religious feelings.”
Muslim groups have been holding protests demanding action against her. Cases have been filed against Sharma in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune, accusing her of hurting religious sentiments.
Saudi Arabia has welcomed the BJP decision to suspend its spokesperson following her remarks about Prophet Muhammad. The country had slammed Nupur Sharma’s statement on Sunday.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry, led by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al-Saud, reiterated the nation’s position calling for religious and belief freedom. The ministry emphasised its opposition to any violation of Islamic symbols as well as any violation of the symbols and important figures of any religion.
Qatar, Iran and Kuwait had summoned India’s ambassadors and expressed strong protest and condemnation. Spokespersons of the Indian Embassy in Qatar and Kuwait said the ambassadors “conveyed that the tweets do not, in any manner, reflect the views of the Government of India. These are the views of fringe elements”. The spokesperson said Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal had a meeting in the foreign office in which concerns were raised with regard to some offensive tweets by individuals in India denigrating the religious personality.