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Why is BJP wrong in Giving Ticket to Sadhavi Pragya - April 22, 2019

BJP, in a rather surprise move, has decided to field Sadhavi Pragya from Bhopal against two time Chief Minister and a senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh for upcoming Lok Sabha Election. This obviously has generated quite an audible murmur in the political circles. Apparently, there appears to be two reasons for choosing Sadhavi. First - it is to convince BJP’s core constituency about its commitment to Hindutva. Given the perpetual uncertainty over the Ram Mandir issue and BJP’s supposed inactivity has generated considerable displeasure within its core constituency. Fielding Sadhavi Pragya is one way to signal its firm support to not only Hindutva, but also to oppose those who are bent on maligning it. And the second, which is more pertinent, is to take head-on the Hindu/Saffron Terror Bogie electorally.

It was under the UPA government when the fictitious story of ‘Hindu-Terror’ was floated. The direct target of it was the RSS and its immediate affiliates. Apart from Chidambaram, it was Digvijay Singh who worked to amplify the narrative of ‘Hindu Terror’. He also (in)famously participated in the release of the book 26/11 RSS Ki Saazish? (26/11 - An RSS Conspiracy?). Sadhavi Pragya, along with Col. Purohit became the face of this ‘so-called Hindu-terror’ narrative and since then the developments in the case have revealed conflicting observations. To field Sadhavi Pragya - who is the face of this Hindu terror - against Digvijay - who is one of the principle propagator of the theory – has a critical political signalling. BJP now wants to fight the Hindu-Terror narrative electorally. A win in the contest will be huge political dividend which will be interpreted as lack of popular support to Congress’s Hindu Terror narrative. The loss, however will be equally damaging. Obviously, there is a political risk attached to it but Modi-Shah duo are not known to be risk averse. Yet, in the midst of this signalling, there is a bigger message which BJP seems to be missing thereby making it difficult to support BJP’s stance of fielding Sadhavi Pragya.

First -for a party, who was in power for five years, to field a candidate who is still facing trial in a serious charges speaks rather weak in terms of commitment of the party to impartial adherence to the rule of law. Personnel conviction about the innocence of a person notwithstanding, it is imperative for a political party which is hoping to form a government to be seen as committed to constitutional ideals and to the rule of law. Though Sadhavi got a clean chit from NIA, which dropped all charges against her in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, she is still facing trial under stringent sections of The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in a Mumbai court, and is out only on bail. UAPA is one of the most critical instruments in the hand of security agencies to deal with activities which pose direct threat to integrity and sovereignty of the country. To give a ticket to a person who is facing charges under such severe charges sends discomforting signals, even more so for a party which is building a strong approach towards national security. Certainly, there is more than meets the eye in the entire Sadhavi Pragya and Hindu Terror Case. Her confessions and also the observations of some senior officials during the UPA time points to glaring irregularities. The entire case appears to be muddled with competing political ambitions. It is therefore necessary to go to the truth. There are however other ways to expose a narrative which the party finds concocted – even support Pragya in her legal battle while fighting the discourse nationally. But giving ticket before she has been exonerated completely by the court of law is not the way to generate the confidence and attest your credentials about a party which is committed to the rule of law and fighting terror in all its forms and face.

- Prof. Akshay Ranade