Two days ago, the BJP's decision to field Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur against Digvijaya Singh from the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat had stunned the Congress into silence. The Grand Old Party feared that attacking the BJP on Pragya's candidature would polarise the electorate on communal lines and trigger a saffron tsunami again.
Ironically, on Friday, it was Pragya who helped the Congress find its voice to attack her, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.
Hours after the self-proclaimed Sadhvi bragged about ‘cursing’ the late Hemant Karkare - the Ashok Chakra decorated IPS officer martyred during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks - to death, the Congress party came out all guns blazing to slam her remarks and assert that the "anti-national face of the BJP stands exposed".
Congress media cell chief Randeep Surjewala alleged that Pragya's comments against Karkare, who had laid down his life in service to the nation, and her dubbing him as a "deshdrohi" (traitor), was an "unforgivable insult to the memory of a martyr who had been awarded the Ashok Chakra by the country for his supreme sacrifice to her".
Launching a direct attack at the Prime Minister using the BJP candidate's remark, Surjewala alleged, "We know that it is Modi who gets his party members to make such statements".
The Congress leader demanded that Modi must apologise to the nation for the insult to the memory of a martyr that has been caused by a candidate of the BJP.
The aggression within the Congress is a departure from the nervous and weak-kneed response the party had displayed over the past 48 hours since the BJP officially declared Pragya as its candidate against Singh, the Congress leader who was among the first members of his party to coin the term "Hindu terror" and attacked the BJP-RSS for their alleged links in terror attacks.
Singh himself has refrained from launching any broadside attack against Pragya, perhaps fearing that doing so would help the BJP ignite extremist Hindu sentiments against the Congress.
However, the Congress now believes that Pragya has given the party enough reason to go on the offensive against her and the BJP.
"Attacking her for her role as the Hindutva face of saffron terror would have helped Modi. As we have seen over the past two days, Modi, Amit Shah and all senior BJP leaders have described Pragya's candidature as one that is a befitting response to the Congress's conspiracy of branding Hindu seers as terrorists. Obviously, by fielding her the BJP had hoped to polarise Hindu votes in its favour. However, Pragya's description of a recognised martyr as a traitor is something that the people will not take kindly to. We have a strong ground and justification to criticize her candidature now," a senior Congress leader said.
Addressing a gathering of BJP workers on Thursday, Pragya had said that Karkare died because she had “cursed” him.
"I called Hemant Karkare and asked him to let me go if there is no evidence (against me). He (Karkare) said that he will bring evidence but will not leave me. I told him -- You will be ruined, Pragya said.