The exit of BJP’s original Hindutva championing leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar from the electoral politics in 2019 Lok Sabha elections now coincides with the entry of the new-age Hindutva warriors like Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.
The BJP Wednesday sprung a surprise by inducting Thakur, who is facing trial under UAPA charges in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, into the party and also announcing her as its candidate against former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal.
The choice is a carefully calibrated signal that goes far beyond the immediate electoral geography of this Lok Sabha constituency. It is an attempt by the BJP to consolidate its core Hindutva base by lending its support to a person it believes is the “victim” of the Congress-led UPA’s plot to script a narrative of “Hindu terror.”
Dismissing charges against Thakur as a “frame-up,” BJP leaders sought to suggest that the move was a head-on challenge against the alleged politics of appeasement and vote banks practised by the Congress.
“We believe Sadhvi Pragya Thakur represents the fighting spirit of women. She also represents the fight against unspeakable atrocities and torture under false allegations. She also represents our fight against crass vote bank politics,” said Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, BJP national vice-president in charge of Madhya Pradesh.
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This was echoed by Suhas Bhagat, RSS pracharak and Sangathan Mantri of MP unit of BJP, who suggested that the move was an attempt to counter the “conspiracy” by the previous Congress-led government.
“Bharat aur bhartiyata, Hindu aur Hindutva, Bhagva aur uski pavitrata ko kalankit karne wale Shriman Bantadhar aur rache gaye shabdo ko sahi sabit karne ke liye kiye gaye shadyantra ki shikar Sadhvi Pragya Ji ke beech Bhopal ke Rashtrabhakt janta Nishchit is dharm ka chunao karegi (The patriotic public of Bhopal will take the side of Dharm in the choice between Mr Bantadhar, who sought to tarnish India and Indianness; Hindu and Hindutva; Saffron and its piety; and Sadhvi Pragyaji, the victim of the conspiracy to prove his manufactured words),” Bhagat said in a post on his social media today. Click here for more election news
His remarks clearly framed the contest for Bhopal as between those who sought to tarnish Hindu religion and those who bore the brunt of this alleged frame-up.
The decision comes days after the acquittal of the accused in the Samjhauta Express blasts case after which the ruling BJP launched an attack on the Congress.
Earlier this month, addressing a rally in Wardha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the Samjhauta verdict to target Congress: “The Congress committed the sin of insulting Hindus, attempted to taint the fundamental ethos of the country and committed the sin of lowering the image of every citizen in the eyes of the world. Brothers and sisters, can such a Congress be forgiven?. The Congress has committed a grave sin (bahut bada paap kya hai Congress ne).”
Party sources, however, said the move to field Thakur was triggered after Congress decided to field Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal, a seat which has been with the BJP since 1989. In fact, the Jan Sangh, precursor of BJP, first won the seat in the 1967 Lok Sabha elections when its stalwart Jagannath Rao Joshi was elected.
While the groundwork done by the Jan Sangh and RSS has made Madhya Pradesh a stronghold of the BJP, the ruling party lost power in the state during Assembly elections last year. Former chief minister Digivijaya Singh has widely been credited for the BJP’s defeat.
The BJP, however, has always been bitterly opposed to Singh who even participated in the launch of a book named “26/11: RSS ki Sazish” written by Aziz Burney in 2010.
Singh has, since been, in the cross-hairs of the RSS-BJP and his decision to contest Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal has given an opportunity to the BJP and RSS to settle scores and signal its staunch defence of Hindutva far beyond one seat.