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Defending sadhvi, for votes

india Updated: Nov 25, 2008 00:49 IST
Varghese K George

From aloofness to qualified defence to complete association, the Sangh Parivar and particularly the BJP have upgraded their support to Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, arrested in the Malegaon blast case.

Police suspicion that some of those arrested along with the sadhvi could also have been involved in another conspiracy to kill two Sangh leaders hasn’t constrained the BJP; it feels its support to the sadhvi is received well across the country and is helping them win votes in poll-going states. “Motivated leaks and subsequent denials by investigating agencies are suspicious during an election season. Charges of torture raised by the sadhvi are of a serious nature,” said BJP spokes-
person Ravishankar Prasad.

The Parivar went into complete silence for four days after the sadhvi’s arrest. On October 29, the party said, “Let it take its own course.” On October 31, L.K. Advani said, “Punish her if guilty.” On November 3, the party said, “No evidence against Thakur.” On November 17, BJP president Rajnath Singh called the investigation “politically motivated.” On the 18th, Advani condemned the “barbaric treatment of a spiritual person.” And on the 20th, the BJP put an affidavit the sadhvi had filed, alleging police torture, on its official website.

Over three weeks, the BJP concluded it was an occasion to defend a Hindutva cause, the latest twist in the investigations notwithstanding. It also feels that irrespective of the truth, the case against the sadhvi won’t stand judicial scrutiny.

It has made a distinction between the sadhvi and Lt Col Purohit on one side and the other accused on the other. It is silent on Abhinav Bharat and the eight other accused.

The sadhvi is defended as a Hindu symbol and the soldier as a symbol of Indian nationalism, for instance, in Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s election speeches, where he says “the Congress has now painted the army as terrorists”. It’s a potent political combination. All the flip-flop apart, the Parivar thinks it’s done a good job in marshalling its Hindutva constituency.