Pragya. File picture
Bhopal, Oct. 26: The arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur in connection with last months Malegaon blasts has embarrassed the BJP and, partially, the Congress too.
Central and state BJP leaders have rushed to deny any links with Pragya, prompting breakaway leader Uma Bharti to scoff that the party was disowning the Sadhvi after using her.
The Congress is red-faced because Pragya, 38, is alleged to have been mentored by Swami Avadheshanand Giri, who counts Union minister Arjun Singh and his son Ajay among his followers.
State police chief S.K. Raut today appeared to jump the gun in his anxiety to defend the ruling BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Raut said the Mumbai anti-terrorist squad (ATS), which arrested Pragya on Friday, had ruled out any link between the blasts and the BJP-Sangh a claim ATS officers would not confirm.
Rauts force, which woke up two days after the arrest and raided Pragyas ashram-cum-residence in Jabalpur today, claimed it found nothing objectionable, a PTI report said.
Uma attacked chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan for denying he knew Pragya, a former member of party student arm ABVP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad womens wing, Durga Vahini.
I am shocked. It is shameful that the BJP and all their organisations are disowning her. When they wanted, they used her, Uma said, asking BJP president Rajnath Singh to be courageous enough.
Photographs taken last year show Pragya sitting close to Chauhan, Rajnath and then state minister Laxman Gaur.
Uma recalled meeting Pragya in the late 1990s during elections in Bhopal. She was then working for the ABVP, Uma said. A PTI report quoted BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad as saying: There is no question of owning or disowning her. She left the ABVP in 1995-96.
The Congress, which was hoping to milk the ABVP connection, has been squirming since Arjun Singhs son Ajay shifted the focus by rushing to deny Avadheshanands links with Pragya. Many Congress officials believe that Ajay, head of the party campaign panel for the upcoming state polls, should not have put his personal ties with the Swami over party interests.
The ATS today arrested a man named Samir Kulkarni and searched the home of a Bhopal-based Bajrang Dal activist. Kulkarni is the fourth person arrested after Pragya, Shyam Sahu and Shivnarain Kalsaangra.
In Indore, several officials of the Hindu Jagran Manch, an umbrella body of various Sangh parivar affiliates, have gone into hiding, sources said.
Analysts feel the police raid in Jabalpur was meant to put on a show of activity. Sources said the police seized a diary and video cassettes of the Sadhvis speeches.
However, a PTI report from Jabalpur quoted additional superintendent of police Manish Kapooria and a local officer as saying only a few religious books and household articles had been found.