Sadhvi's campaign off to melodramatic start

Predictably enough, Malegaon blast accused and BJP’s Bhopal seat candidate Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur today began her campaign with a melodramatic recounting of her ‘ordeal’ in jail which, she said, she had to undergo because she is an ardent nationalist.

Sadhvi's Congress rival Digvijaya Singh is studiously shunning frontal attacks on her dubious antecedent as a face of saffron terror, to avoid falling into the party’s trap.

The Congress seems acutely conscious of the fact that any slip-up on the Hindu terror narrative could jeopardise its prospects across Madhya Pradesh, a possibility that the BJP is keen to see become a reality. 

Addressing a press conference here, her first after being declared candidate, Sadhvi wept copiously while recalling her torture in jail.

“They wanted to bump me off," she wailed while recalling her alleged torture as an undertrial for her suspected role in the Malegaon bomb blast which killed six persons and left 100 injured on September 29, 2008.

According to her, the ATS, Maharashtra personnel kept her hungry, tortured her and interrogated for 24 days. “But,” she added, "they didn’t know the power of true nationalists." 

Accusing Digvijaya Singh of play-acting as a Hindu, Sadhvi said the Congress leader supported Pakistan-based terrorists and mentioned their names with honorifics such as 'Shri' and ‘Ji’.   

A high emotional quotient in the BJP candidate’s maiden media interaction makes it clear that she is likely to play the victim card to the hilt in the run-up to the polling, slated for May 12 in Bhopal.

Other BJP leaders, including former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, have minced no words in telling party cadres to help Sadhvi avenge her ordeal for being a strong Hindutva proponent.

If this theme finds resonance in Bhopal, the BJP hopes to spread the terror accused’s 'victimhood' across the state. Sadhvi Pragya is set to file her nomination papers on April 23.

For now, though, Sadhvi has a daunting task to launch a coordinated campaign. She might be a well-known face but being a rank outsider in Bhopal, the BJP candidate lacks a team of dependable campaign managers.

On the contrary, Digvijaya Singh is already into his fourth week of aggressive campaigning, having covered large swathes of the constituency. He has announced a week-long foot march across Bhopal before the polling.

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