The Congress on Wednesday took a dig at the BJP after it named Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur as its Lok Sabha poll candidate from Bhopal, saying what else can be expected from the saffron party. Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehboob Mufti slammed the decision, which elicited enthusiastic reactions from Hindutva votaries and BJP leaders, saying had her party fielded a terror accused, then news channels would have gone berserk.
"Imagine the anger if I fielded a terror accused. Channels would have gone berserk by now trending a mehboobaterrorist hashtag! According to these guys terror has no religion when it comes to saffron fanatics but otherwise all Muslims are terrorists. Guilty until proven innocent (sic)," she tweeted. In a terse reaction, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "What else can we expect from the BJP."
When asked further by reporters, Azad said it was the BJP's decision and he did not want to speak more, an indication of the Congress' tactic to not join the issue with the BJP on its aggressive Hindutva plank. Several BJP leaders hailed the decision, with its president Amit Shah dubbing former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, who is the Congress' candidate from Bhopal, as the "creator of saffron terror" phase and asserting that his party decided to take the matter to "people's court" by fielding Thakur against him.
Accusing the Congress of "defaming" India by coining terms like "Hindu terror" and "saffron terror", Shah referred to the acquittal of several accused, including Swami Aseemanand, in the Samjhauta Express blast case. He said people of Bhopal will punish Singh and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. BJP vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said Thakur "symbolises the fighting spirit of a woman, the courage for braving unspeakable torture for the victory of truth and above all our relentless struggle to free democracy from crass vote bank politics".
Hindutva votary and another party leader Subramanian Swamy said Thakur had "suffered enormously" and was a "victim" of the Congress' agenda. Calling the 48-year-old saffron activist innocent and devoted to religion, Swamy played down other charges she is facing, saying "those are in the final stages of being dismissed".
(With inputs from agencies.)