Bhopal: Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, who is facing trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, joined the BJP here Wednesday and said she would like to contest the Lok Sabha election from Bhopal. There is speculation that the BJP may give ticket to her against Congress’ Digvijay Singh in the state capital. “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.
The BJP has not announced its candidate from Bhopal, its stronghold, yet. However, the incumbent city MP and BJP leader Alok Sanjar claimed that Thakur’s candidature could be declared any moment. Thakur had recently said she was ready for a “Dharm Yudh”.”I am ready to take on Digvijay Singh if the sanghatan (organisation, apparently referring to the BJP) asks me to do so,” Thakur had said 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’ 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 huddle after Digvijay 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.