Sadhvi Pragya Thakur
Illustration by Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint
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The Association for Democratic Reforms says 230 candidates (14 per cent of the total) in the fray for the third phase of polling have serious criminal cases against them. Why, 14 candidates say that they have court convictions standing against them, while 26 candidates have cases of hate speech filed against them. Even in such a milieu, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s decision to put up Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur as its parliamentary candidate for Bhopal stands out for its in-your-face disregard for common sensibilities. It has provoked shock, and rightly drawn widespread criticism for the message that it sends out.

A picture of TN Ninan, chairman of Business Standard Private LimitedThe sadhvi has not been convicted, and is out on bail on health grounds. She is not barred by law from being a candidate, but charges have been framed by a court. The BJP says she has been nominated as a response to Congress talk of “Hindu terror”, but forgets that its own government in Madhya Pradesh had arrested the sadhvi in a case of murder, not once but twice. She says she has been tortured in police custody, but only the Congress has taken a position in its manifesto against custodial torture; the BJP is silent on the issue.
Her nomination as a party candidate is of a piece with other hardline choices that the BJP has been making in recent times, including the selection of the former leader of a vigilante group, Yogi Adityanath, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

Other parties too have made hard-to-defend choices in the past. Manmohan Singh’s extraordinary decision in 2006 to re-induct Shibu Soren as a cabinet minister, after the latter was given bail in a murder case, stands out. The BJP’s leader of the opposition in Parliament at the time, L.K. Advani, had said that “under the UPA, not just politics but even the cabinet has been criminalised”. Viewed in those terms, is the BJP now seeking to criminalise the Lok Sabha? The sadhvi has been quoted as saying: “We will put an end to [terrorists and Congress leaders] and reduce them to ashes.” Is that the kind of talk that the country wishes to hear in Parliament?

It is said that, more than failure, it is success that reveals a person. And so it would seem to be with the BJP. In opposition, the party used to stand for law and order, but now it stands by vigilante groups and their members who attack Muslims. Its leaders used to be known once for their measured language, but they have been replaced by rabble-rousers who attract censure for divisive talk and holding out threats to voters. Its talk of “genuine” secularism, as different from what it called “minority appeasement”, stands exposed by its own actions while what one hears now is talk of a Hindu rashtra. In opposition, the party rightly criticised partisan capture of autonomous bodies, nomination of Congress party faithful to constitutional posts, and misuse of the government’s investigative powers. But whatever the Congress did, the BJP now does in spades. Advani conceptualised Prasar Bharati as an autonomous broadcasting body, but it has become a partisan government mouthpiece. And the selective use of tax and other raids is too blatantly one-sided to be accidental.


Also read: Rubbing salt on our wounds: Malegaon residents on Sadhvi Pragya fighting election


The BJP is not alone in coarsening public discourse. Rahul Gandhi’s constant description of the prime minister as “chor” or thief is clear use of unparliamentary language. His jibe that Narendra Modi is a “darpok” (coward) is laughable, and hardly improves matters with its childishness. Other opposition leaders have not distinguished themselves; Mayawati, Azam Khan and others have all crossed the line. But it is the BJP that has set the unfortunate tone of these elections. As the new pole party in Indian politics, it should have sought to improve political conduct and discourse. Instead, it has chosen to nominate Pragya Thakur. Whatever one might think of the idea of Hindutva, the words and actions of the party that advocates it are no advertisement for it.


Also read: Has chowkidar barb turned into advantage-Modi or are real poll issues being sidelined?


 

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9 COMMENTS

  1. The so called Sadhvi will be another millstone on the neck of BJP like Yogi. Wherever Yogi goes for campaign in election there is defeat to BJP. Last several elections have proved this, e. g. Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajastan etc. The so called Sadhvi will be another draw back.

  2. You have a plenitude of mlas and MPs with serious criminal charges all present and voting. How do you object to Sadhvi Pragya who has been subject to third degree methods by the police certainly with orders from above. Ninan must write without prejudice. Dont expect me to follow you for all you blabber.

  3. The HATE INDIA Campaign by these TERRORIST Group from across the LOC STARTED AT GREATER INTENSITY EVER SINCE the BJP under Vajpai and L.K. ADVANI Set this monster MAULANA AZAD JEM Chief free after the IA Hijacking in 1999 .

    The Late Hemant Karkare IPS Officer who made the extreme sacrifice ,along so many DEFENDERS of HINDUSTAN INTEGRITY as a UNITED COUNTRY , even those CRP jawan 49 who lost they lives by Blast in PULWAMA, those Brave IAF Officer who were shot and killed in the Helicopter friendly fire. ARE NOT GOING TO RETURN.
    THIS VERY GOVT BJP RSS VHP under fekoo is either defendig the Mulana by the TONE of they attack or are PART of the Campaign against this COUNTRY CONSTITUTION, .

    It seem the bjp is on the VOTE GRABBING CAMPAIGN JUST TO HOLD ON THE THRONE OF POWER BY HOOK OR BY CROOK.
    LET HONOUR late Shri Hemant Karkare and PUTTING HIS PHOTO IN EVERY OFFICE FOR PROTECTING OUR COUNTRY AND THE CITY OF MUMBAI in NOV .
    LET VOTE IN HIS NAME AND HONOUR ALONG WITH THE OTHER MARTYRS 49 CRP and thousands of JAWAN and OFFICERS WHO GAVE THE LIFE TO PROTECT THIS COUNTRY INTEGRITY.
    JAI HIND HINDUSTAN

  4. I am certain that you will not print it, but still I am writing this comments.
    As regards to the controversy on Sadhvi Pragya Singh’s remarks on Hemanat Karkare , I don’t agree and endorse her views, but she is not alone to make insulting remarks on martyres. She uttered such words on her personal sufferings. Most of the politicians of JK indulge in such acts by abusing Armed Forces. Those who sufferred by demonetisation by Modi, leave no opportunity to abuse him, the country’s PM, daily. Those who suffered in Chitfund Scam by Mamata, abuse her openly. Those who were forcibly sterilised during Emergency, also abuse Indira Gandhi, a national hero and martyre too. Simranjit Singh Mann abused our Generals involved in Blue Star, and contested elections from jail. No questions are raised against them for contesting elections. There are numerous such examples where some people, who suffered by someone, who is national hero, abuse him for personal reasons. Hence targeting Sadhvi alone is partisan act.

  5. The thought struck me, there is no poetry in this campaign. Where are the slogans that capture a mood of national renewal, which is what a general election is supposed to be all about. Coarse, vulgar, abusive.

  6. After a very long time, TN Ninan has written a balanced article similarly criticising Khongress for its act of ommission and commission…. But you must appreciate that since 2002 Gujarat riots, Khongress Govts over the years have used every trick to pin down Modi Gujarat Govt through constitutional authorities and many more but he never questioned the central authorities like CBI or any other like Mamta Di and Kamalnath in MP has shown and threatened the agencies with the jibe “When we will come to power”…. the language used by Khongress and it’s shenanigans against Modi since 2002 are also responsible for today’s India under Modi….

    • Your comment, Rajiv Chawla, is as balanced as T.N.Ninan’s article. The author does bring up the ‘contribution’ of other politicians too. Congress targeted Modi methodically for over a decade – now they are behaving like bad losers. BJP has to rein in its motormouths.

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