Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on Tuesday defended the party’s decision to field 2008 Malegaon blasts accused Pragya Sigh Thakur from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency. They said it was an answer to the Congress’ “Hindu terror” conspiracy.
BJP President Amit Shah said fielding Thakur was “absolutely [the] right decision”. Thakur is contesting the Lok Sabha elections against Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal. Shah claimed Thakur was framed in false cases by those who had coined the term “Hindu terror” and indulged in vote bank politics. “A Hindu can never be a terrorist,” said Shah, according to PTI.
Shah claimed that the real culprits in the Malegaon blasts have evaded the law. “This [Malegaon blast case against Thakur] was a fake case made out by the Congress,” he said in Madhya Pradesh.
Thakur is facing charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blasts, in which six people died and 101 were injured. The Bombay High Court had granted bail to her in April 2017, noting that she had been in jail for more than eight years and was suffering from breast cancer.
Shah also cited the instance of Hindutva activist Aseemanand, who has been acquitted in the Samjhauta Express blast case. “I want to ask Diggi Raja [Digvijaya Singh] today that you have said saffron terror exists. Hindu terror exists. We have fought the court battle and got acquitted. The verdict had come that no Hindu terror existed. It was a conspiracy and now I want to seek a reply from Congressmen on why they left those who had carried out the blast on the Samjhauta Express.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis echoed Shah. In an interview to the Hindustan Times that was published on Wednesday, he said the move was a reply to those who insulted Hindus.
“Their [National Investigation Agency] investigation says there is no evidence against her,” said Fadnavis. “That this is all made up. On that basis, the party took a decision to give her a ticket. You troubled her [Thakur] so she will only give you reply. There is nothing like Hindu terrorism. Absolutely not.”
Asked about the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act charges against Thakur, Fadnavis said the prosecution does not have evidence. “She is out on bail as the prosecution doesn’t want to press charges,” he said. “By the same logic, even Congress president Rahul Gandhi is out on bail. He has not been given a clean chit.”
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the BJP was proud of Thakur, reported ANI. Addressing a rally in Bhopal on Tuesday, Singh said: “You [Congress] committed 3 crimes. You defamed saffron, you meted out inhumane torture to a daughter of India, you misused laws. So I say this with full responsibility that yes BJP fielded Sadhvi Pragya against Digvijaya Singh, we’re proud of her.”
Ever since the BJP has announced Thakur’s candidature, she has stoked controversy with her remarks. First, she said that former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare died because she had cursed him. Then she went on to say that she was proud to have participated in the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. For the second comment, an FIR was filed against Thakur.