EDITORIAL | Which party is anti-national now?

Pragya Singh Thakur

By fielding Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blast case, from the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has sent out a clear signal that it does not care for the rule of law and due process. More than that, it shows that the party is not deterred by the fact that she is on trial on terrorism charges but thinks that the charge actually qualifies her to enter Parliament. Pragya Singh was held under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and spent nine years in jail. Though she was cleared of the charges under MCOCA, she still faces serious charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Though the National Investigation Agency (NIA) claimed that there was insufficient evidence against her, the special court in Mumbai rejected the agency’s stand, found that there was enough evidence to prosecute her and framed the charges. It was in this case that special public prosecutor Rohini Salian said there was pressure from the NIA to go soft on the accused. 

Though she has not yet been convicted, Pragya Singh has been identified with terror. By nominating her, the BJP has made it clear that it wants to create maximum polarisation of voters on Hindu-Muslim lines. After the first and second rounds of polling, elections will now move to the Hindi heartland, where the BJP has higher stakes than in the south. The voters in the north may also be more vulnerable to communal polarisation. It should also be noted that Pragya Singh has been fielded against Digvijaya Singh, who has been most vocal about extremist Hindu organisations. The BJP has won the Bhopal seat without a break from 1989, the last time with over 60% votes. So, the only reason for fielding a controversial figure from that seat is to polarise the voters beyond the constituency and to impact elections in other places. The fact that the BJP lost the assembly election in Madhya Pradesh last November may also have been a consideration. 

There may be no legal bar on Pragya Singh contesting elections. But it is morally and politically indefensible for the BJP to put her up as a candidate for parliament. It amounts to legitimisation and acceptance of terrorism. If the ruling party makes a terrorism-accused a candidate for parliament, what should we expect of Pakistan in the terror cases we want them to prosecute? With this candidature, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has again sent out the clear message that he is unable to fight this election on development and other issues of the people. He is fighting it on Hindu-Muslim polarisation, and he wants to win -- at any cost to the nation.

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