Vajpayee no more, but his memories remain: Aligarh mayor’s remark leaves BJP red-faced


Prime VIP
BJP’s controversial Aligarh mayor Shakuntala Bharti on Saturday referred to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee as “deceased”
"Vajpayee ji is no longer with us, but his memories remain," she said while delivering a speech during Vajpayee’s 92nd birthday celebration
AGRA : Call it ignorance or sheer slip of the tongue, but BJP's controversial Aligarh mayor Shakuntala Bharti landed herself in an embarrassing situation on Saturday when she referred to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as "deceased" while delivering a speech on the eve of celebrations of the veteran politician's birthday.
Addressing students at Dharam Jyoti Mahavidyalya School at Iglas in Aligarh, Bharti said, "Bharat ke purv pradhan mantri Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji hamare beech me nahin rahe, lekin unki yadein hai (Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji is no longer with us, but his memories remain)," much to the shock of those present at the event, organised to celebrate the 155th birth anniversary of Madan Mohan Malviya and Vajpayee's 92nd birthday.
Bharti's remarks did not go down well with other leaders of the BJP as well as other parties present on the occasion. "This kind of statement is unacceptable," said former Aligarh zila panchayat member and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Narendra Pachauri, who went on to advise Bharti not to make public speeches in future, if "she is so ignorant".
Bharti is no stranger to controversies. In July this year, traders in Aligarh had alleged that she had tried to "vitiate the atmosphere of communal harmony" after a trader had been killed. Prior to that, in February, Bharti had alleged that a canteen in Aligarh Muslim University had been serving beef, an allegation which university authorities had denied. In June Bharti had alleged that AMU officials had killed a cow and demolished a small temple.
In the aftermath of her statement about Vajpayee, Bharti tried to wriggle out of the situation by first claiming that she was referring to "Malviya ji, not Vajpayee ji". On being confronted with a video of her statement, she said, "I don't know how it happened. If I have committed a mistake, I regret it. I have great respect for Vajpayee ji and wish him a long and healthy life."
Bharti added that she was feeling "miserable" about her remarks and was tendering an unconditional apology to all those who had been hurt by her "inadvertent" mistake.