Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday the BJP’s decision to field Pragya Singh Thakur in the Lok Sabha elections, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, was a symbolic reply to all those who labelled the Hindu civilisation as “terrorist”. He also said this symbol would “prove costly for the Congress”.

In an interview to Times Now, Modi defended his party’s decision to field Thakur, who is currently on bail. Stating that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and senior party leader Sonia Gandhi were also contesting the elections despite being on “bail” in a case, the PM asked why no such questions were being asked about them.

“One woman, that too a ‘sadhvi’, was humiliated in such a manner,” he said.

He said the Congress worked with a “modus operandi” to create false narratives on incidents such as the Samjhauta Express blast and death of judge BH Loya.

“Samjhauta Express verdict came. What came out? Without any evidence, a rich civilisation as old as 5000 years, which gave the message of ‘the whole world is one’… You called such a civilization terrorist? To give a reply to all such people, this (fielding of Thakur) is a symbol and this symbol will cost Congress dearly,” said the PM.

On April 17, soon after Thakur joined the BJP, the party announced her candidature from Bhopal against veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.

“In Amethi, they (Congress) have a candidate (Rahul Gandhi) who is on bail, in Rae Bareli, they have a candidate (Sonia Gandhi) who is on bail, but there is no debate on that. But if the candidate from Bhopal is on bail, there is so much of outcry,” he said, asking, “how can this go on?”

PM Modi added: “I have lived in Gujarat. I have understood the Congress modus operandi. Like a film script, they write a script. They locate something, then bring a villain and a hero and make a film. This is their modus operandi.. It is part of that modus operandi.”

He said because of the “same modus operandi” of the Congress, “all the encounters were presented like that (as fake)…”. “Justice Loya died a natural death but because of this kind of modus operandi, such a case was built as if he had been murdered. On EVM issue also, they used the same modus operandi,” said the PM.

Continuing his attack on the Congress, he referred to the aftermath of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984.

“Her (Indira’s) son (Rajiv Gandhi) said when big tree falls, the earth shakes. After that thousands of Sikhs were massacred in Delhi. Was it not terrorism of certain people? Even after that he (Rajiv Gandhi) was made the Prime Minister, the neutral media never asked any question with regard to that but is asking now,” Modi said.

“Those who were eyewitnesses to those killings were later made ministers.. One of them was recently made the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, against whom there have been allegations. Were they ever asked? Modi said, and asked: “Do they (Congress) have any right to raise questions?”

Replying to a question if he saw Congress president Rahul Gandhi as his biggest challenger, he said: “Modi is Modi’s biggest challenger.”

“I have brought the world together. I have always challenged myself. I have taken the nation forward. I am my biggest challenge,” he said.

Modi said the BJP government’s agenda was driven by development and not corruption. “I believe in Mahatma Gandhi’s view that one should always think of the common man before making a decision.”

Talking about BJP’s prospects in the Lok Sabha elections, the Prime Minister exuded confidence and said, “We will win with more votes than before. This time, more states will give us bigger vote share.”

“We will win in every state with more margin. Our presence in every state will increase. Even after gathbandhan in UP, I am confident that the BJP will win,” he said.