Ever since the BJP gave Pragya Singh Thakur a Lok Sabha ticket from Bhopal, the sadhvi has only managed to embarrass the party. By fielding her, the BJP had hoped to generate a Hindutva ripple effect to give the party a lift across the country, but had miscalculated her potential for drawing trouble. That she could be a street fighter but is not cut out for politics is as clear as daylight, as her views on contentious issues echo those of the fringe.
In the run-up to the general elections, the BJP brain trust in Delhi wanted to pillory the Congress for coining the phrase ‘saffron terror’ and use the sadhvi as the face of that campaign. For, Pragya had been branded that way and jailed for years on allegedly trumped-up charges in the Malegaon blasts case. She is now out on bail. Whether or not she has any role in the serial blasts is for the courts to decide, but as a loose cannon, she surely is a serial offender who expresses regret after every episode only to repeat it at a later date, perhaps because the apology did not come out of conviction.
Her first statement lauding Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse came during the thick of elections, forcing no less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi to denounce it sharply. “She has sought an apology but I would never be able to forgive her fully,” he had said. Echoing him, BJP chief Amit Shah had said a disciplinary committee would suggest necessary action in 10 days. Yet no action was taken, perhaps emboldening her to defend Godse again, this time in Parliament.
Though the Lok Sabha Speaker expunged her remarks, the damage was done. An appalled BJP criticised the sadhvi and axed her from the consultative committee on defence to which she was controversially appointed. As for the Opposition, it is planning to move a censure motion to bar her from the Lok Sabha. Had the BJP taken exemplary action in the first instance, she would perhaps have learnt the Lakshman Rekha of free speech. The party is now repenting at leisure.