NEW DELHI :
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday named Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, as its candidate for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat against senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.
Senior BJP leaders tried to justify Thakur’s selection, saying that she was the “symbol" of the BJP’s fight against the vote bank politics of the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s linking Hindus with terrorism.
“Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur has been at the receiving end for long. She represents the BJP’s fight against the vote bank politics of the Congress and its attempt to target Hindus," said a senior BJP leader based in Bhopal on condition of anonymity.
BJP leaders are hopeful that Thakur will attract women voters in Bhopal and Madhya Pradesh for the party, which has been winning the Lok Sabha seat since 1989. The battle in Madhya Pradesh is crucial for the BJP as it will be in a direct contest with the Congress, which ended the BJP’s 15-year-old rule in the state in the December assembly elections.
The announcement was made by the BJP’s central leadership hours after Thakur joined the party in Bhopal. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in April 2017 cleared Thakur of all charges in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast case, in which two people were killed and 17 injured.
However, in October 2018, the agency framed fresh charges against her under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, in which six people were killed and 100 injured.
“I am ready and now I will get down to this work," Thakur said in Bhopal after her name was announced.
Thakur was born in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh, and was closely associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
“I will contest the election from Bhopal and win. Former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is with me," Thakur said.
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