Malegaon blast accused Pragya to take on Digvijaya

"I will contest the election from Bhopal and win. Former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is with me," Thakur said, speaking after emerging out of the BJP office. PTI File photo

After nearly three weeks of procrastination, the BJP acquiesced in RSS pressure to field Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur against Congress’ Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal seat. Her candidacy barely 22 days before the polling in Bhopal on May 12 has added communal passion to the contest.

Sadhvi has called her fight against Digvijaya Singh a “righteous war” against an anti-Hindu. Her Congress rival sarcastically welcomed her and expressed the hope that she will like “the peaceful, zeducated and civilised atmosphere of this city”.    

Sadhvi’s name was doing the rounds ever since former chief minister Digvijaya Singh took up the challenge to contest from “one of the most difficult seats” on March 23. Bhopal, Indore, Bhind and Vidisha are categorised as difficult seats for the Congress as the party lost them in successive elections since 1989. Chief Minister Kamal Nath publicly urged  Digvijaya to opt for Bhopal, saying big leaders’  entry in “difficult” poll arenas will energise the party cadres across Madhya Pradesh.

From the day his candidacy was announced, the veteran Congress leader hit the ground running. In the last three weeks, he has already won the perception battle against the BJP. The former chief minister, who knows Bhopal like the back of his hand, has his strategy in place and his workers on the field. His main focus so far has been to remove the perception that he was among the Congress hardliners who coined and propagated the phrase Hindu terror. BJP’s Sadhvi Pragya Thakur was known as one of the most prominent faces of the so-called Hindu terror.

Although Digvijaya Singh has consciously softened his attacks on Hindu hardliners, particularly the RSS, after being declared the Congress candidate, the BJP is keen to remind the Bhopal electorate the Congress veteran’s old statements which allegedly were soft on Muslim terrorists and hard on “innocent victims of Hindu–terror”.

Sadhvi joined the BJP on Wednesday after a meeting with senior leaders Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Ramlal and Prabhat Jha in Bhopal. “I have formally joined the BJP, I will contest the elections and will win also,” she said.

Sadhvi, one of the accused in the 2008 blast case, is currently out on bail.

On December 27, 2017, a special NIA court had dropped the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) charges against Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya, Sameer Kulkarni and other accused in the blast case. Six people were killed and 101 injured when an improvised explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off at Malegaon on September 29, 2008.

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Malegaon blast accused Pragya to take on Digvijaya

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