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Contentious candidature

Contentious candidature

In a bizarre revelation, ('Sadhvi') Pragya Singh Thakur, prime accused in Malegaon blast case, has been fielded by BJP to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal seat. As dailies ran the news of Pragya's candidature, discussions took place over BJP's choice more than Pragya's chances. There is a significant difference between choosing a candidate for representing 'people' and choosing one to fulfil vested interests. In its cynical approach, BJP seems to have gone for the latter. For them, Pragya Singh's influence and character sketch override her morality. And, there is definitely an aggregate plus that is not evident to general perception as opposed to the glaring minus of serious allegations against her. Discussions around her electoral success will follow once those around her deeds expire if they do at all. Maybe this runs along with BJP's script, where unproven allegations permit Sadhvi Pragya Singh to contest while abject criticism follows as it would because that will not mark any difference since she is not convicted yet. So while the objections are raised and critics rally around her participation, those unaware of Sadhvi Pragya Singh's involvements will be polarised with her Hindu Sannyasin charm. In this context, MP electorates stand vulnerable to abject polarisation due to overarching influence that she may surge. While her reputation may dip between a small fraction of electorates, it will be instrumental in others. 'Sadhvi' Pragya herself said that she is not an 'outsider' as she has been living in Bhopal since she was 16-year-old. She further asserted how she has worked all across Bhopal as the organisation minister of ABVP and stressed that she is in touch with each and every family of Bhopal. Now that, in a layman's equation, does mean she is fit for the purpose she has been inducted in the party for – mass influence. Minus the accusations, Pragya Singh Thakur is perfect for a BJP candidate. Her political credentials would have anyway given her a ticket from the saffron party but with the accusations, it certainly would have been difficult. However, BJP has other 'deeper' ideas which go beyond the lateral thinking of commoners. Out on bail but still facing charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Sadhvi Pragya Singh is yet to be discharged by the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Malegaon case. However, that does not affect her poll prospects by any means as she looks all set to defeat Congress's Digvijaya Singh. BJP has already cited that it is fielding Sadhvi Pragya in Bhopal to fight against the alleged "conspiracy" by Congress to defame Hindu religion by linking it to terrorism. And, with that, and Sadhvi's candidature, BJP also pronounces how it will provide unwavering support to one of its own without a doubt.

While Pragya Singh Thakur prepares for the upcoming polls, a petition has been filed in the special NIA court seeking to bar her from contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Filed by Nisar Sayeed who lost his son in the 2008 Malegaon blast, the petitioner appealed to the court that Sadhvi Pragya, who spent nine years in jail and is out on bail since 2017 on health grounds, be asked to attend court proceedings in Mumbai. The petition also cited how Sadhvi Pragya Singh has not been attending the court proceedings on the pretext of being a breast cancer patient and unwell but has been seen participating in various programmes and giving "objectionable and instigating speeches" since her release from jail. Speaking of objectionable and instigating speeches, Sadhvi Pragya recently said that former Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare died in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks as she had cursed him for treating her "very badly" while she was in custody in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. Now, while the veracity of her being mistreated is subject to other eye-witnesses, her passing objectionable statements against the Ashok Chakra Awardee right after assuming candidature from Bhopal constituency is completely condemnable. However, her confidence in her influence and followers do not let her be even remotely apprehensive. And, it is also not expected given the magnitude of charges against her. Sadhvi Pragya's electoral representation, if not cancelled, will certainly be condemned. It is not every day that a prime accused in a major bomb blast case happens to be a major national party's candidate.

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