Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur will contest against senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal in Lok Sabha elections as the BJP on Wednesday released a list of four candidates for Madhya Pradesh. Besides Thakur, the Bharatiya Janata Party also fielded KP Yadav from Guna, Raj Bahadur Singh from Sagar and Ramakant Bhargav from Vidisha. Thakur joined the BJP in Bhopal on Wednesday.
"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.
Thakur had recently said she was ready for a "Dharm Yudh". "I am ready to take on Digvijaya Singh if the sanghatan (organisation, apparently referring to the BJP) asks me to do so," Thakur had told news agency PTI last month.
Born in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh, Thakur has had a long association with the Sangh parivar. A post-graduate in history, she worked with the RSS's student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Durga Vahini, women's wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Arrested in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, she was given a clean chit by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), but the trial court refused to discharge her from the case. The court dropped the charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against her, and she is now being tried under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
She was granted bail by the Bombay High Court in 2017. Six people were killed and over 100 injured when a bomb went off near a mosque in Malegaon in north Maharashtra,on September 29, 2008. According to the prosecution, it was the handiwork of a Hindu extremist group.
The BJP has been holding Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, where about 4.5 lakh of the 18 lakh voters are Muslim, since 1989. According to sources, BJP leaders went into a huddleafter Digvijaya Singh's candidature was announced. In the 2018 Assembly elections, the Congress won three out of the eight assembly segments in the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, and in the remaining segments the BJP's victory margin decreased.
(With PTI inputs)