In September 2008 a bomb blast near a mosque in Malegaon, Maharashtra killed six people and left over a hundred injured. Pragya Thakur remains an accused in that case. In a country engaged in an everyday fight against terrorism, it understandably caused great distress when BJP nominated this person to fight the Lok Sabha election from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
An opening salvo in her election campaign was declaring that it was her curse that took the life of Hemant Karkare, chief of the Mumbai anti-terror squad who died fighting 26/11 terrorists and was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peacetime military decoration. Thakur has kept up the tempo with her latest sally about the man who murdered Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to freedom and is universally regarded as the ‘father of the nation’. Her view on Godse, Gandhi’s murderer: “Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt, is a deshbhakt, and will always remain one.”
In both cases Pragya has delivered some kind of apology, reportedly after being asked to do so by party bosses. But this apology in no way suggests the dilution of a radical worldview that she has brought to centrestage. When the terror accused is garbed as ‘nationalist’ her view of those who defended the nation or brought it into being is bound to be frighteningly warped. She who trumpets the patriotism of Gandhi’s murderer today may well brand Gandhi the terrorist tomorrow. In which case we will be in a truly Orwellian world where “war is peace, freedom is slavery”. One may also be reminded of what was engraved at the entrance of Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi Germany: “work sets you free”.
Such distortions have always existed in the vastness of India but BJP has mainstreamed them. What was on the darkest fringes now aims to be seated inside Parliament. The party that has visited this horrifying prospect on the country must at least expel Pragya Thakur without delay.