Facing ire over remarks on Prophet Muhammad, Nupur Sharma has a record of controversies

Former BJP national spokesperson Nupur Sharma | Source: @NupurSharmaBJP Twitter

37-year-old Sharma is a former president of the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) who rose through the ranks of the ruling BJP to become its national spokesperson in 2020 and has been a regular on TV debates, often stoking controversies. 

Nikita Jain | TwoCircles.net

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NEW DELHI — The former national spokesperson of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Nupur Sharma, who was suspended by the BJP on Sunday after her controversial comments against Prophet Muhammad on national TV caused outrage on social media and a diplomatic clash with several Gulf countries, has been a controversial figure in her limited political career. 

37-year-old Sharma is a former president of the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) who rose through the ranks of the Hindu-right wing party BJP to become its national spokesperson in 2020 and has been a regular on TV debates. 

She is not new to controversy. A London School of Economics (LSE) graduate, Sharma is known for making controversial statements during TV debates. The latest one was on the Gyanvapi mosque case on May 26 on Times Now, where she allegedly insulted Prophet Mohammed. Following the outrage, several FIRs were filed against Sharma for hurting the religious sentiments of the minority Muslim community. 

According to reports, in one of the FIRs filed against her, the Maharashtra Police has asked Sharma to appear before them on June 22 to record her statement in connection with her derogatory remarks.

Suspended by her party, Sharma posted an apology on Twitter. “I could not tolerate the continuous insult and disrespect towards our Mahadev (Lord Shiva) and I said some things in response to it,” she tweeted.

Active in politics from student days
Sharma studied economics at Hindu College, Delhi University, followed by an LLB from the faculty of law and a master’s in International Business from London School of Economics (LSE) in London, United Kingdom. 

She was active in politics since her time in college. She contested and won the DUSU student election on the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) ticket and became its president in 2008. When TwoCircles.net contacted former ABVP members who knew her they refused to comment, while one of them said, “There has been enough controversy in her name. We do not want to agitate further on this.” 

Sharma was made the media head of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) in 2010. In 2013, she became a member of the Delhi BJP’s working committee.

In 2015, BJP chose to field Sharma in the 2015 Delhi Assembly Elections against the current Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “This gave a huge boost to her political career”, an ABVP member told TwoCicrles.net on the condition of anonymity said. 

She, however, lost to Kejriwal by over 31,000 votes.

Habit of making controversial statements
This is not the first time that Sharma has made controversial remarks. On November 6, 2008, when DU Professor S.A.R. Geelani, arrested and later acquitted in the Parliament attack case, was invited to participate in a seminar, Sharma was accused of leading an ABVP mob and vandalising the arts faculty. One student had allegedly spat on Geelani’s face. Sharma was seen heckling Geelani in pictures.

In 2020, during a TV debate, Sharma was seen calling a fellow panellist “moron”, “uncouth vagabond” and “sadak chhap buddha.”

In 2017, she was booked by the Kolkata Police for sharing a photo from the 2002 Gujarat riots and allegedly passing it off as one depicting violence in West Bengal.

Last year, during a debate on the rape of a nine-year-old girl in Delhi, Sharma got into an argument with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi and asked the anchor to “shut her up.”

Meanwhile, post-Sharma’s comments, reports suggest that BJP has formed new guidelines for its representatives appearing on TV shows.

Nikita Jain is an independent journalist based in New Delhi. She tweets at @nikita_jain15