BHOPAL: Helped by two men, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, controversial BJP candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, limps to her ‘gaddi’ (special seat for saints). She calls out ‘Bheeksham dehi (give alms)’ and is soon surrounded by villagers who offer rice and cash in a cloth spread out on her lap. An old man washes her feet with water and the villagers drink it as ‘charanamrit’.
Thakur restarted her poll campaign after the 72-hour ban imposed by the Election Commission got over with calls for alms. Thakur speaks less and mostly gives her blessings to her audience.
“Ye dharma yudh hai (this is a holy battle),” Thakur told this newspaper, after settling for an interaction, while resting after hectic campaigning on Sunday.
Thakur made it clear that she took the electoral plunge only after the Congress fielded senior leader Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal. “Digvijaya was the principal conspirator who sought to defame Hindu religion by fanning saffron terror conspiracy. The moment he was fielded, angry people came to me with requests to challenge him. The party (BJP) too thought that I should contest,” Thakur explained while stressing that “the Congress to justify its vote bank politics dragged her and others to whip up Hindu terrorism plank”.
In the company of the BJP vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Thakur looked at ease to expound the saffron narrative against the Congress with stress on conspiracy theory “even while there was no shred of evidence”.
“NIA (National Investigating Agency) has given me clean chit,” Thakur asserted. Hindu religion which aspires for the welfare of all can never be clubbed with terrorism, argued Thakur, while saying that a Muslim woman during a roadshow cried her heart out after listening to “atrocities meted out to her at the hands of men despite being a woman”.
Women in Bhopal were seen sporting trademark headgears of Thakur, distributing leaflets, enlisting reasons for 100 per cent voting to punish the party for “fanning saffron terrorism, 26/11 Mumbai terror attack”. Thakur hastened to add that she wasn’t in the fray for revenge. “This is a holy battle to ensure that no woman ever is tortured illegally. This is a battle for national consciousness. It’s a fight to restore the glory of the saffron colour and also against anti-nationalist forces, who fielded candidates like Digvijaya Singh,” asserted Thakur, who is seeking election from Bhopal where the BJP had lost four out of eight Assembly constituencies to the Congress in last year’s state polls.
Having taken “Deeksha” from Junagarh Mahamandaleshwar Swamy Avdheshanand in 2006, Thakur noted that Muslims too have been victims of the “vote bank politics of the Congress,” though, she adds, she hasn’t been able to visit minority-dominated areas. Bhopal, incidentally, has about 25 per cent Muslim vote base, besides holding tactical strength in three Assembly constituencies.
Thakur’s electioneering is overseen by BJP MLAs and big guns, including former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, have canvassed for her. BJP chief Amit Shah too will hold a roadshow on May 8. The Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh machinery is in full swing to ensure “decisive win” for Thakur.
Thakur explained that she limps, “because of severe beating by police personnel”.