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BJP fields Pragya from Bhopal; to face Cong's Digvijaya Singh

BJP fields Pragya from Bhopal; to face Congs Digvijaya Singh

New Delhi: After a lengthy suspense, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership finalised 2008 Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur as the party's face from the Bhopal constituency of Madhya Pradesh. The Central Election Committee released its 22nd candidate list for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday.

The Hindu Sanyasini joined BJP on the same day morning and will take on Congress veteran and former MP chief minister Digvijay Singh from its 30 years-bastion. On the other hand, Bhopal has a sizeable Muslim population and to woo the multi-layered demography, Digvijaya Singh was asked by his party top leadership and even by Chief Minister Kamal Nath to contest from tough seat, where the Congress hasn't won in years.

Challenge accepted, was Digvijaya Singh's response, and he was named for Bhopal.

Sadhvi Pragya is out on bail in the case, in which she was cleared under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) on 27 December, 2017, but faces other charges. Reportedly, the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and BJP veteran and Union Minister, Uma Bharti declined to contest the general elections from the constituency.

Chouhan, party general secretary Ramlal, and senior leader Prabhat Jha also held a meeting in the party headquarters in Bhopal. "I have formally joined the BJP, I will contest elections and will definitely win. It won't be difficult for me," Sadhvi Pragya told the media persons. She also added, "We all will fight together with all those who are conspiring against the nation and defeat them." The BJP power corridor further refused to affirm the criminal charges against her and claimed her 'innocence' and said that "a woman has been harassed and no charges have been proved against her."

Six persons were killed and 101 were injured when an improvised explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off at Malegaon on September 29, 2008. The incident also promulgated the term "saffron terror"- widely used by the erstwhile Congress-led- UPA government.

Sadhvi Pragya has always been known for her mooted comments and provocative speeches. She had been associated with the right-wing all India student organisation affiliated to the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh- Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and 'Durga Vahini' or women's wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

Meanwhile, Digvijaya Singh welcomed Sadhvi to Bhopal, tweeting - he hopes she likes the calm, educated and sophisticated ambience of the city.

Alok Sanjar of BJP is the incumbent Lok Sabha MP from Bhopal.

The party also preferred a secured seat Vidisha for a new candidate Ramakant Bhargava. Union Minister Sushma Swaraj is the incumbent Lok Sabha MP from the constituency. But she refused to contest this election due to her health problem. Bhargava is also a Brahmin face and has a big vote bank. In this seat, Brahmin plays a decisive role. He is also known for his clean image. He is in the state leadership for a decade now.

To woo the Yadav voter of Guna Parliamentary seat, BJP also put K P Yadav as its nominee from Guna to take on Jyotiraditya Scindia. Raj Bahadur Singh is going to contest from Sagar constituency.

However, the BJP is still delaying in the announcement of its Indore candidate, which is only left in 29 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state.

Simontini Bhattacharjee

Simontini Bhattacharjee

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