Kirti Azad tenders apology for ‘booth loot’ comment

Kirti Azad tenders apology for ‘booth loot’ comment

Lok Sabha member from Darbhanga, Kirti Azad. PTI file photo

Lok Sabha member from Darbhanga, Kirti Azad, on Thursday tendered an unconditional apology for his comment about ‘booth loot’ during the 80s and the 90s elections.

The suspended BJP MP, who joined the Congress on February 18 and is likely to be fielded by the grand-old party from the prestigious seat in North Bihar, made the controversial statement while attending a public reception after joining the  Congress.

“For me, it’s like a ghar-wapsi. My father Bhagwat Jha Azad was a Congress MP for three decades, besides being a Union minister in Indira Gandhi Cabinet. Later, he became Bihar chief minister too in 1988. The Congressmen, who used to loot booth for my father, looted booths for me as well when I first became a BJP MP from Darbhanga in 1999,” said the cricketer-turned-politician.

“In those days, there were no electronic voting machines (EVMs). These Congress workers used to also loot booths for Nagendra Jha (father of Bihar Congress president Madan Mohan Jha, who was also on the dais),” said Kirti, the three-term MP, without realising how he was embarrassing his party and its president.

When the BJP retorted that Kirti became MP from Darbhanga through popular votes, not ‘booth loot’, Kirti realised his faux pas and tendered an apology for his unwarranted statement.

“I am sorry. In the heat of the moment, and in an over-excited mood, I made such remarks so as to boost the morale of the Congress workers. Actually, I wanted to say booth management, but somehow got carried away,” said Kirti, in his bid to clear the misgivings.

But the controversial remarks gave the BJP a stick to beat Kirti with.

“We have always maintained that booth loot has been the culture of Congress for years. Now that Kirti has joined the Congress, he should realise that it’s an era of EVMs. And he will forfeit his security deposit in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls,” said Bihar BJP president Nityanand Rai.