Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sadhvi of the block

She is astonishing in her violence, fascinating in her militant womanhood and tedious in her love for revenge. She is the new face of the woman politician in India. And she provokes both awe and revulsion.
That's the current image of sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the key accused in the Malegaon and Modasa blasts. Nobody knows for sure if she is guilty or not. But the reports doing the rounds have thrown up enough (truth or falsehood) to send shivers of apprehension down the nation's spine.We've seen women politicians in all hues of the rainbow and heard them in all notes of the octave: the reluctant entrants who talk softly and carry a big stick; the rabble-rousing sanyasins who try the nation's patience; the next-door didis who dance atop cars to get their way; the moody ammas who proclaim "I am my party"; the behenjis who mercilessly purge comrades that dare dissent; the hysterical bahus who take unladylike steps at the drop of a hat. But we haven't quite seen anyone like the new sadhvi on the block. Identity politics might be the mantra today, but until now we have not come across the potent combination that she cooks up: womanhood, violence and religion.Track her journey: Pragya Singh Thakur grew up in small town, Bhind, MP, as daddy's little girl. "She's my brightest girl," says her father, Chandrapal Singh Thakur, an Ayurvedic doctor. Can one assume that as his political philosophy swung from the centre to the far right, as reported, daddy's girl made him proud by doing one better and taking it to the extreme? Not surprisingly, she did a Master's in history (that much-maligned subject for justifying all shades of "nationalism"), was active with the rightwing student body, ABVP, since her school days and then joined the Durga Vahini, the VHP women's wing.All in the name of "justice", of course. "We can't stand injustice," her father has gone on record. An average student, she dressed like boys, kept short hair like boys, could fight like boys and had a great passion for bikes like boys. But all that just to get back at boys. Her father says that she was a much-feared student leader, roaming around on her bike and beating up eve-teasers. She and her sister once thrashed up some pesky Congress goons so hard that they, apparently, had to beg for mercy.Politics gave her a new let out. Over time, her speeches for rightwing outfits became ultra inflammatory. "Destruction leads to construction," she would invoke gods to justify violence and seek "justice" for Hindus. But she found her niche after setting up the Jai Vande Mataram Jan Kalyan Samiti in 2002. "They would rescue girls who eloped with boys of another community," her father proudly says, "sometimes bringing them back to their parents." Terrorising, kidnapping and coercing? One wonders.One step up and she got into spiritualism, that ultimate channel of legitimacy in this ancient land. Last year, the 30-something woman decided to renounce worldly life (detractors, however, say that her parents didn't allow her to marry a prominent BJP leader from Bhind and this was her revenge). Under Swami Avadheshanand Giri, a guru with major political following, she reinvented herself in a new avatar—Sadhvi Purna Chetanand Giri Sharma. Backed by her status as a sanyasin, driven by her hatred for other communities and powered by her gender, she apparently formed a group to avenge the bomb blasts carried out by Islamic terror groups. The Mumbai Police holds that she had a mission of carrying out bomb blasts across the country.As the hurtling incoherence of the story unfolds, the sadhvi stands all alone. Most political parties have dissociated themselves from her. She has had to go through invasive narco tests and is now holding her own brief at the chief judicial magistrate's court in Nashik. A nationwide consensus is yet to emerge: is she innocent or being victimised? What was she trying to do? Is she entirely in control of her own imagination? Popular mandate will depend on how much of a taste one has for a looking-glass universe that reflects nothing beyond personal obsessions.Meantime, her father continues to light an incense stick or two at the family altar, where her photograph has found place. At least, Pragya Singh Thakur has become an object of worship for her father. How many daughters can achieve that?


  © Free Blogger Templates Blogger Theme by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP