By Dr. George Jacob
Kochi, May 19: 2019: On September 29, 2008, a bomb went off near a mosque in Malegaon in north Maharashtra, killing six and wounding more than a hundred. According to the prosecution, the blast was the handiwork of a Hindu extremist group.
Arrested in the blast case, the suspect Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur was given a clean chit by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2015. But the trial court refused to discharge her from the case, given that her motorcycle was used in the blast. Moreover, she had cited her ‘dissatisfaction at the low volume of casualties the blast could ultimately manage.’
The court had dropped the charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA) against her, and she’s now being tried under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) act. She was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in 2017. She is contesting the Lok Sabha seat from Bhopal representing the BJP, and her opponent is Congress’ veteran leader Digvijay Singh.
Thus, Bhopal has a person representing the BJP still under the microscope of law. The loud and ruthless crimester has no qualms of contesting the elections. Neither does her party have second thoughts of granting her a ticket.
To be fair to the Sadhvi, she’s not the only criminal to get tickets to contest the 2019 General Elections. Nearly 19 percent of the close to 8,000 candidates now contesting have declared pending criminal cases against them while 29 percent have assets worth 10 million rupees or more, according to a report by the election watchdog (Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
In fact, the share of candidates with criminal cases increased by 4 percent points between 2009 and 2019 elections from 15, in 2014. candidates with 10 million rupee asset have increased by 13 percent from 16 in 2014.
Big political parties in India have a larger share of such candidates. For instance, nearly 4 in 10 candidates of the BJP and the Congress have declared criminal cases against them. Among the seven national Indian parties, the CPI (M) has the largest share of such candidates (58 percent), while the BSP has the lowest (22 percent).
But these figures do not condone the loud mouthing the Sadhvi resorted to during her campaigning in Bhopal. She went on to indulge in the most distasteful vitriol by declaring that the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) Chief Hemant Karkare died in the 26/11 Mumbai carnage because she cursed him for treating her ‘very badly’ while in custody in the Malegaon Blast case.
She fumed ‘he died of his karma. I told him he will be destroyed. I told him his entire dynasty will be erased.’ Blatant expression of extreme and blind hatred for a person who died while serving his country.
For the party only those who lost their lives in Pulwama and subsequently in the claimed ‘surgical strike’ in Balakot seemed to matter, for only those would fetch them precious votes in the 2019 elections.
How crude can electioneering be? The Sadhvi seemed to care nothing for the sensitivity and sensibility of Hemant’s surviving family members who are still bereaved at their huge loss. Hemant Karkare, an Asok Chakra awardee was a valiant son of India who laid down his life for his nation while battling it out with Pakistan-trained terrorists who created mayhem in Mumbai on November 26, 2008.
The men in uniform protested against Sadhvi’s scant respect for the 26/11 martyrs.
Close to the heels of Sadhvi’s diatribe against a fallen son of India, which drew no reaction or censuring from Sadhvi’s political bosses, as always, she dropped another bombshell-more distasteful, repulsive and puerile.
Kamal Hassan, the actor turned politician who founded the Makkal Needhi Maiyam, had declared in a poll rally in Tamil Nadu that ‘the first terrorist of free India was a Hindu, and his name was Nathuram Godse.’
The rightist forces for whom Godse is a martyr, Kamal’s observation hurt. Though he spoke the truth, Kamal should have just said that ‘the first terrorist of free India was Nathuram Godse,’ and stopped at that. He chose, like a typical politician to play to the gallery by referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin’s faith.
The Sadhvi, piqued by Hassan’s statement about the man who her party and its close affiliate the RSS, had chosen to eulogize and to crown a martyr, on numerous earlier occasions, chose to react to his statement while campaigning for her party candidate in Agar Malwa in Madhya Pradesh by describing Godse, the man who assassinated the apostle of peace who bought freedom for India from the British without firing a single bullet or throwing a single stone, or resorting to a single hate word or phrase, as a ‘patriot.’
‘Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot, and will always be one,’ she fumed. BJP’s visage turned more grotesque that moment. India shuddered. India lost hope that moment because Sadhvi represented a national party-the BJP, who was the favorite to win the 2019 elections and retain power in New Delhi.
Sadhvi through that observation on Godse betrayed her party’s manifesto – a manifesto of hate, of division, of sheer irresponsibility, and of dark hopelessness. A manifesto that cared not for the rising crime against women and the girl child, unemployment, farmer suicides, sick citizens, murder of people who dared to question and chose to believe in free speech and healthy political discourse like Gauri Lankesh and Professor Kalburghi.
Indians couldn’t believe their eyes and ears when the media showed the saffron-clad and tilak-sporting candidate of Bhopal spewing venom by calling Godse a ‘patriot’, Sadhvi indirectly termed Godse’s victim-India’s own ‘Father of the Nation’, an anti national.
For it is the anti-nationals the patriots want done away with, and will work toward. Sadvi gave an entirely new dimension to patriotism and nationalism, and added a BJP brand to such lofty ideals. For perhaps the first time, Prime Minister Modi shed crocodile tears.
‘I will not be able to forgive Pragya for sullying Bapu’ he quipped. But, it was too late. The damage was done. BJP and its real intensions stood exposed starkly. Is it safe to entrust the keys of governance to these hate mongers for another five years? Will her party, which took its attempts to confer martyrdom on Godse and to canonize him, to new heights take India, the country on which and for which the mahatma died for, to development and things that really mattered?
Far away from hate, from division, from crass intolerance, and, from darkness and hopelessness?
God bless India if Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s party retains power in Delhi for another five years or perhaps much more! This is the prayer on every well-meaning Indian’s lips, as the visage of the party considered favorite to win the 2019 general Elections look frighteningly grotesque, as exposed by its candidate from Bhopal-Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.