India is set to elect a terror accused candidate who’s a fan of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin

Beyond the pale.
Beyond the pale.
Image: REUTERS/Raj Patidar
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India is set to elect Pragya Thakur, a terror accused woman and a fan of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, to parliament.

Today (May 23), the counting of votes in India’s mammoth general election showed prime minister Narendra Modi almost certainly returning for a second term. In Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, the constituency from which Thakur is contesting for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), she was reportedly leading by over 40,000 votes as of 2 pm. As the numbers poured in, she had already begun celebrating, reports said.

The 49-year-old Thakur was arrested in 2008 for involvement in the Malegaon blasts—bombings in Muslim neighbourhoods that killed at least six people and wounded over 100. She was cleared of charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, but still faces a battery of other charges, including terror.

Thakur, who prefixes the Hindu religious title sadhvi (holy woman) to her name, has exhorted Indians to vote for the BJP so that “nationalism wins, Hindus win,” Buzzfeed reported. Last week she made headlines by calling Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Gandhi, a patriot.

The BJP’s strident Hindu nationalism has only gotten more intense since Modi became prime minister in 2014, with violence against minorities, including majoritarian lynchings, seeing a stark rise under his rule.

Many saw the party bestowing a terror accused with a ticket as a high watermark of this phenomenon and a sign that it will only worsen in coming years.

Read Quartz’s coverage of the 2019 Indian general election here.