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Modi defends extremist woman candidate

Updated April 21, 2019

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Rightwing extremist Pragya Thakur, who is out on bail on terror charges in Malegaon blast case, made BJP candidate. ─ Photo courtesy ToI
Rightwing extremist Pragya Thakur, who is out on bail on terror charges in Malegaon blast case, made BJP candidate. ─ Photo courtesy ToI

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signalled a full-blown Hindutva campaign by endorsing the candidature of Pragya Singh Thakur, a rightwing extremist woman out on bail on terror charges.

Ms Thakur is accused in the Malegaon blasts case in which she allegedly plotted the bombing of a mosque. She was made the BJP candidate from Bhopal immediately after joining the party.

Mr Modi said on Saturday it was a symbolic answer to all those who labelled “the rich Hindu civilisation as terrorist” and asserted that “this symbol will prove costly for the Congress”.

Ms Thakur joined the BJP on Wednesday and soon after was named its candidate from Bhopal against Congress leader Digvijay Singh.

The prime minister said the Congress worked with a certain modus operandi to create false narratives on incidents such as the Samjhauta Express blasts and the death of Judge B.H. Loya.

Defending the candidature of Ms Thakur, who is on bail in the Malegaon blasts case, Mr Modi asked why no such questions were being asked when Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi were contesting from the Amethi and Rae Bareli constituencies, respectively, despite being on “bail”.

“One woman, that too a ‘sadhvi’, was humiliated in such a manner,” he said in an interview to a TV channel that supports him.

“In Amethi, they [Congress] have a candidate [Rahul Gandhi] who is on bail; in Rae Bareli, they have a candidate [Sonia Gandhi] who is on bail, but there is no debate on that. But if the candidate from Bhopal is on bail, there is so much of outcry,” he said and asked: “How can this go on?”

He went on to add: “I have lived in Gujarat. I have understood the Congress modus operandi. Like a film script, they write a script. They locate something, then bring a villain and a hero and make a film. This is their modus operandi... It is a part of that modus operandi.”

Because of the “same modus operandi” of the Congress, “all the encounters were presented like that [as fake]... Justice Loya died a natural death but because of this kind of modus operandi, such a case was built as if he had been murdered. On the EVMs issue also, they used the same modus operandi,” he said.

“Samjhauta Express verdict came. What came out? Without any evidence, a rich civilisation as old as 5,000 years, which gave the message ‘the whole world is one’... You called such a civilisation terrorist? To give a reply to all such people, this [fielding of Ms Thakur] is a symbol and this symbol will cost Congress dearly,” he said.

Mr Modi also referred to the 1984 killing of former prime minister Indira Gandhi. “Her [Indira’s] son [Rajiv Gandhi] said when a big tree falls, the earth shakes. After that thousands of Sikhs were massacred in Delhi. Was it not terrorism of certain people? Even after that he [Rajiv Gandhi] was made the prime minister.

“The neutral media never asked any question with regard to that but is asking now,” he said.

“Those who were eyewitnesses of those killings were later made ministers... One of them was recently made the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, against whom there have been allegations. Were they ever asked? Those who have been convicted are being hugged even in jail,” he said.

“Do they [Congress] have any right to raise questions?” Analysts say Mr Modi hopes that Ms Thakur, known for her fiery oratory, would be able to polarise communal votes to help shore up a faltering BJP campaign.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019