Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the Hindutva leader facing trial in 2008 Malegaon blast case, formally joined the BJP on Wednesday. Two years ago, Singh was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on April 27, 2017 in the case after the National Investigation Agency gave her the clean chit. “I have formally joined BJP, I will contest elections and will win also,” Singh was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. Sources have told News Nation that Singh is likely to contest the Lok Sabha Elections from Madhya Pradesh’s capital city Bhopal. In case this happens, it would mean a high-stake battle between her and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
Last month, Singh had said that she is ready to take on Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat if she is given a ticket by "organisation". With the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) yet to announce the name of the party candidate from Bhopal, various names are doing rounds in the party circles, one of them is that of former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The BJP has been holding this seat since 1989. The Congress had last won the seat in 1984.
"I am ready to take on Digvijaya Singh if 'sanghatan' (apparently referring to the BJP) asks me to do so," Thakur told PTI over phone from Delhi Monday, after her name started doing rounds as a potential nominee.
The surprise candidature of Singh has prompted the BJP to redraw its strategy for Bhopal. "Digvijaya is an anti-Hindu leader. He had called Hindus terrorists," Thakur said.
She denied that she had contacted the BJP leadership for ticket. The self-proclaimed godwoman also said that she would not fight against Singh as Independent candidate.
Thakur said she was born and brought up in Lahar area of Bhind district in Madhya Pradesh. A post-graduate in history, Thakur had worked with RSS-affiliate Akhil Bharti Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and 'Durga Vahini' or women's wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). She is known for delivering fiery speeches.
Thakur was given a clean chit by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the 2008 bomb blasts case. However, a special NIA court in December 2018 refused to discharge her from the case. Though the court dropped provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against her, Thakur is being tried under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). She was granted bail by the Bombay High Court last year.
Six people were killed and over 100 injured when an explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon in north Maharashtra, on September 29, 2008.
Bhopal constituency is spread over eight assembly segments, namely Berasia, Bhopal Uttar, Narela, Bhopal Dakshin-Paschhim, Bhopal Madhya, Govindpura, Huzur and Sehore. In the last assembly elections in 2018, the Congress had won three out of eight assembly segments. In remaining five seats, the BJP witnessed a slide in its margin. Alok Sanjar is the sitting MP from Bhopal.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP completely swept the state and won 27 seats in Madhya Pradesh. The BJP received 1,60,15,695 votes with a whopping vote share of 54.8 per cent. The Congress managed to win only 2 seats in the state and received 1,03,40,274 votes with a vote share of 35.3 per cent. Only Kamal Nath from Chhindwara and Jyotiraditya Scindia from Guna were able to emerge victorious from the party in the state. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got 3.8 per cent of the total votes polled in the state. Madhya Pradesh has 29 Lok Sabha seats and the 2014 election in the state was held in three phases on April 10, 17 and 24.