iconimg Sunday, May 24, 2015

Vijay Swaroop, Hindustan Times
Indore, January 03, 2014
After the BJP distanced itself from the Asaram episode for four months, a party legislator could not resist showing her reverence for the jailed self-styled godman.

The newly-elected BJP MLA from assembly constituency number 3, Usha Thakur, not only attended a bhajan programme organised by his supporters on New Year’s Eve at Indore Narsingh Vatika, but also performed an aarti of Asaram’s portrait kept on the dais. This has created ripples not only in the party, but in political circles as well.

"She should not have done this particularly after party high command had issued a clear cut directive on this issue," said a BJP leader from Indore.

Asaram, who was arrested from his Indore’s ashram on August 31 last year, is currently in a Jodhpur jail following complaints of sexual harassment. A girl had lodged a complaint at a police station in Delhi on August 20, accusing the 72-year-old of sexually assaulting her at his ashram in Jodhpur. Thakur denied having performed the aarti of Asaram.

"I know the allegations against Asaram. Those who have organised the event are my supporters. I got the invitation for bhajan sandhya and attend the programme every year," she said, adding that she performed the aarti of Ram Darbar. However, the MLA admitted that a photograph of Asaram was put on the dais.

Incidentally, this is not the first time when BJP leaders have either issued statements or participated in functions of Asaram. Senior BJP leaders — Uma Bharti, minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, Rajya Sabha MP Prabhat Jha — had defended the jailed ‘godman’ prior to his arrest.