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    EDITORS PICK Pratap Sarangi: 'Humble' minister who was Bajrang Dal state chief when Graham...

    Pratap Sarangi: ‘Humble’ minister who was Bajrang Dal state chief when Graham Staines was killed

    Sarangi is the new MoS in the MSME; and MoS in the Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries in the Narendra Modi Cabinet.

    New Delhi: Garnering applause and cheers from people across the country, BJP’s Pratap Chandra Sarangi was sworn in as a Minister of State on May 30. While his inspirational journey from rags to political riches has made him a social media hero, what’s not being talked about as much is the fact that Sarangi was the Odisha chief of Bajrang Dal when Graham Staines and his two children were burnt alive in 1999.

    Sarangi takes oath: From rags to political riches

    Pratap Chandra Sarangi, popularly known as ‘the Narendra Modi of Odisha’, stole the show when he secured a berth in the Narendra Modi-led Union Council of Ministers and took oath at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 30. The large crowd, including many world leaders, gave a standing ovation to Sarangi.

    The 64-year-old, who had lost to BJD’s Rabindra Jena by a margin of 1.5 lakh votes in 2014, won the Balasore seat in Odisha in the recently concluded General Elections.

    Known for his humble beginnings and simple and austere lifestyle, Sarangi became an internet sensation when a photo of him packing his bags for Delhi after winning the election went viral on social media. Another picture of him that won many hearts shows Sarangi leaving his bamboo hut to take the oath.

    Before fighting the national election, Sarangi has been a member of Odisha’s Legislative Assembly from 2004 to 2014. He is also a member of BJP’s National Executive, the highest governing body of the party.

    A look back at his dubious past

    Sarangi is all this — and more. He was the state coordinator of the Bajrang Dal when a Hindu mob burnt alive Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two children in 1999.

    Bajrang Dal was accused of the killings by leaders of the Christian community. An official enquiry, however, found no evidence of involvement of any particular group in the attack. Dara Singh, convicted for the murder, was a Bajrang Dal member.

    The Commission headed by Justice DP Wadhwa of the Supreme Court, appointed to enquire into the incident, did not even examine the role of the Bajrang Dal on the ground that it was not an illegal organisation. It accepted Sarangi’s testimony, denying the group’s involvement in the killings, without cross-examining him.

    According to a media report, an Odisha-based journalist had said that Sarangi gave several interviews, including to him, speaking passionately against “evil designs” of Christian missionaries who were “bent on converting the whole of India”.

    He was also arrested on charges of rioting, arson, assault and damaging government property after a 2002 attack on the Odisha state Assembly by Hindu rightwing groups, including the Bajrang Dal.

    Twitter remembers!

    However, it won’t be wrong to say that the Internet never forgets. Netizens have been quick to recall Sarangi’s past, and some even said that the BJP had ‘rewarded Hindu terror’ yet again by including Sarangi in the Cabinet.

    Also read: Pratap Chandra Sarangi: Odisha’s Modi in PM Narendra Modi’s new Cabinet

    Also watch: Modi 2.0 Cabinet: Amit Shah Gets Home Ministry, Rajnath Singh Defence, Sitharaman Finance

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