By PIYUSH SRIVASTAVA
“Sadhvi” Niranjan Jyoti may have only just hit national headlines with her Ramzada versus Haramzada speech, but she had perfected the art of vitriolic public speaking during the fiery eighties, when the Ram temple issue changed the course of Indian politics.
She, along with Sadhvi Ritambhara and Sadhvi Uma Bharti, were the three female disciples of Swami Parmanand Giri at his Mawai Dham, Fatehpur ashram.
When Parmanand became the vice-president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Margdarshak Mandal, he decided to send all three short-tempered and inflammatory orators to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lead politico-religious lives.
Ritambhara, who had founded Durga Vahini, a wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), decided soon after that she was not cut out for politics and returned to religious activities and social work. Bharti stayed on with the BJP and became an MP. Later, she became union minister, and then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.
Although her career had its fair share of lows, like her fall-out with then home minister L.K. Advani in 2004 when he had praised Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Bharti managed to survive and is currently water resource minister in the Narendra Modi government.
Success, meanwhile, came slow for Niranjan Jyoti (47), who was the youngest of the three storytellers (Katha Vachak) but spewed the most venom in her speeches and was known for polarising the crowd in a jiffy.
She lost two Assembly elections in UP before getting elected from Hamirpur, her home town, in 2012. The BJP saw great potential in her and fielded her in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from adjoining Fatehpur, which she won comfortably.
“Out of about 60 public meetings that she addressed during her Parliamentary election campaign in Fatehpur, she didn't forget to tell voters to decide whether they needed a government of Ramzadas (sons of Ram) or Haramzadas (an unparliamentary word). She didn't use these words during her 2012 Assembly election campaign, but Jyoti openly declared she didn't need any Muslim votes and would pass abusive comments against those opposed to Ram temple in Ayodhya,” said a close aide of the Sadhvi in Hamirpur.
But she did bring up “Ramzada and Haramzada” in her speech at Ramabai Ambedkar Ground in Lucknow on March 2 this year, a few minutes before Modi came on the dais to address the rally. This has also been pointed out by Bhanu Singh Patel, a suspended Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) leader, in a letter to Modi.
“She doesn't respect anybody. ‘Ramzada and Haramzada’ kind of speeches are her trademark. But she uses Haramzada even for those BJP leaders whom she doesn't like. Modi will soon regret making her minister of state for food processing,” said Patel.
“I have written a letter to Modi to expose her. I have told him how she had asked her official security men to beat me up because I had questioned her foul language. She also registered a case against me and mounted pressure on state leaders to suspend me,” he added.
Born in a Kewat (Mallah) family in Patewara-Ramedi village under Sumerpur in Hamirpur district, she used to go fishing as a child. While still in school, she was noticed by Swami Achyutanand, a local sadhu, when she was reciting Ramayan in a religious congregation. He invited her to take diksha. However, she was unsure about her future plans and sought time. After completing her intermediate, she approached him and became a full-time story teller.
She came to Parmanand’s ashram after Achyutanand’s death. Later, she also got her own ashram constructed in Musa Nagar in rural Kanpur