Bhopal, where polling is due on Sunday, May 12, is witnessing a no-holds-barred campaign in what is a straight contest between former chief minister and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and BJP’s terror accused candidate Pragya Singh Thakur. For both the BJP and the RSS it is a contest that they believe they cannot afford to lose.
The Election Commission, generally seen as favouring the BJP, has however foiled the launch of a short film - Bhagwa Aatankwad Bhramjaal - in the state. The flick argues that Pragya Thakur was tormented over trumped up charges in Malegaon blast. The launch had to be aborted midway on Monday.
An Election Commission team, along with policemen from the MP Nagar Police Station, reached the hotel where the short film, made on Samjhauta Express, Malegaon, Ajmer Dargah and Mecca Masjid blasts, was being screened for journalists. It was stopped midway.
The movie showed Swami Aseemanand, Pragya Singh Thakur and others in police custody. It contended that these two Hindu religious personalities were tortured over cooked up charges by the previous Congress government.
MP Nagar Police Station in-charge Inspector Manish Rai said that the Election Commission gave permission to Bharat Vichar Manch (BVM), the organisers, to hold the show but revoked it later, following a complaint from the Congress.
Captain Vikas Pandey, a member of BVM, said the Mumbai-based producer of the short film, Rajiv Pandey, has planned the launch of the film for MP here. He added that he was a retired Short Service Commission Army officer and that BVM was a social organisation and not connected to the RSS.
Rajiv Pandey, also the director of the film, told reporters that it would be uploaded on youtube shortly.
“They are free to show the film after May 12 – after the election for Bhopal seat gets over,” says Congress spokesman Bhupendra Gupta. “The Election Commission (EC) has put off the release of the biopic on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The same argument applies for this movie featuring Malegaon accused Pragya,” said Gupta.
“We lodged the complaint with the EC stating that it violated the model code of conduct and it took prompt action,” he added.
Another saffron-clad activist Swami Agnivesh, who once contested the Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal, said the Sadhvi’s claim that the fight was between Dharma and Adharma (right and wrong) could be true but that it was the Sadhvi who was on the side of Adharma. He said there was nothing wrong in a sadhu joining politics as it was a means for welfare of the society. The saffron, a symbol of the purity of fire, could not be misused for spreading hate and discrimination. Many Bollywood personalities have also descended upon Bhopal to campaign against the Sadhvi, particularly after her comments on Hemant Karkare touched raw nerves in Maharshtra.
Actress Swara Bhaskar wore a saffron saree to make a statement. She said saffron didn’t afford any extra strength to the person but that it was a sign of sacrifice. The most scathing statement came from Maharashtra Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis who came to Indore to campaign for the party. He said Pragya should have avoided commenting about Hemant Karkare who is acknowledged as a martyr not just by Maharashtra but by the entire nation. The BJP has nothing to do with the sadhvi’s statement which was her personal view, he said. Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has backed up Pragya on her statement.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who campaigned for the party in Bhopal during the weekend, said Pragya Singh Thakur was a habitual offender who had stabbed a man and had attacked many people with slippers. The saffron robes were a much later acquisition and could not turn her into a Sadhvi, he added.
Bhopal is braving high summer temperature on one hand and political heat on the other. Polling for the constituency will take place on May 12.