BJP sidelines Pragya on last day of campaigning

FIR against Sadhvi Pragya for Babri Masjid remark
BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. Photo: PTI

Bhopal: The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) side-lined its Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate and Malegaon blast accused Pragya Singh Thakur.

Pragya, who had been repeatedly embroiled in controversies, was to hold a campaign rally for the party's candidate in Khandwa Lok Seat on the last day of campaigning.

But that did not happen.

Voting for the seventh and last phase of polls is on Sunday.

Pragya had reached Burhanpur district headquarters on Thursday. She was slated to hold a roadshow from Ganpati temple at Ganapati Naka in Burhanpur assembly segment, one of the eight assembly segments of the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat.

“In the morning, Pragya Didi complained of uneasiness. On the advice of doctors, Pragya dropped her plan to hold roadshow,” a senior party leader said.

Party sources said Pragya was reportedly discouraged by senior and local party leaders from holding the roadshow after her controversial remarks that Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse was a ‘Deshbhakt’ or patriot.

“Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt, he is and will remain a deshbhakt. Those calling him a terrorist should instead look at themselves. They will be given a befitting reply in this election,” Pragya, clad in her trademark saffron robe, said in response to a question regarding the statement of actor-politician Kamal Haasan, founder of a political outfit Makkal Needhi Maiyam (MNM).

A host of political parties condemned her remark and the BJP disowned her statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi too condemned Pragya Thakur's comment glorifying Godse as a patriot.

“The comment on Gandhi and Godse are deplorable, disgusting. Those who say such things should think 100 times. It is a different issue that they have apologized, but I will not be able to forgive them from my heart,” BJP had tweeted quoting Narendra Modi.

Ever since elections for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat got over on May 12, Pragya Singh Thakur had not been getting prominence in the campaign for the eight seats in Malwa-Nimar region, considered a saffron stronghold.

“As far as I remember, she is not in the campaign list of the party,” Deepak Vijayvargiya, spokesperson of the state unit of  Bharatiya Janata Party told this correspondent.

Pragya had joined the BJP on April 17 and was announced as the party’s candidate for Bhopal constituency the same day.

However, after polling for the Bhopal seat, where she is taking on former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, got over, the BJP had not been keen to unleash her in support of party candidates in Malwa Nimar region, the nerve centre of electoral politics in the state.

The Malwa –Nimar region, which sends eight MPs and 66 MLAs in the 230-member state Assembly, is considered a barometer of the state's electoral politics.

In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has won all eight seats in the region. In the Assembly elections last year, the Congress won 35 seats and was able to form the government in the state after 15 years.  The Congress and the BJP had deputed their star campaigners to campaign in the region.

For the BJP, star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed election rallies in Indore, Khandwa and Ratlam, while the Congress also banked on its high profile campaigners like party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Chief Minister Kamal Nath and former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan were also among the star campaigners.

PM Modi's public meeting in Indore and Khandwa drew massive crowds.

The Congress also managed to attract huge crowds during the road show of party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi in Indore.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi had addressed three back-to-back rallies in Neemuch, Dewas and in Ujjain on May 14.

Digvijaya Singh was widely utilised by the Congress to campaign in support of party candidates in the tribal belt of the Malwa- Nimar region.