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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Lok Sabha elections 2019: Truth on my side, says Sadhvi Pragya on Bhopal faceoff with Digvijaya Singh

Bhopal is considered as one of the safest Lok Sabha seats for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh that BJP has never lost for 30 years. Former President Shankar Dayal Sharma was the last Congress candidate to win the seat. This was in 1984.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 17, 2019 21:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakurhas been chosen as BJP’s candidate against Congress leader Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal.
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakurhas been chosen as BJP’s candidate against Congress leader Digvijaya Singh in Bhopal.(ANI Photo )
         

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the 2008 Malegaon blasts accused fielded by the BJP from Bhopal against her long-standing critic Digvijaya Singh, has hit the ground running. Minutes after she was named the BJP’s candidate, Sadhvi Pragya Singh appeared before television cameras to declare that she was ready for the big fight. She also packed in few sharp jibes at Digvijaya Singh as she gave some pointers about her campaign.

“I have a clean chit. The conspiracies against me have failed,” said the ochre-robed Sadhvi Pragya Singh, standing with former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Bhopal is considered as one of the safest Lok Sabha seats for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh that BJP has never lost for 30 years. Former President Shankar Dayal Sharma was the last Congress candidate to win the seat. This was in 1984.

The Congress had hoped to change his pattern this time when it fielded Digvijaya Singh from the state capital. Digvijaya Singh, the Madhya Pradesh chief minister between 1993 and 2003, was reluctant but finally gave in.

 

Sadhvi Pragya Singh said she was inexperienced but it didn’t mean that Digvijaya Singh was a stronger candidate. “A non-believer can never be strong… because he doesn’t have truth on his side,” she told reporters.

Digvijaya Singh and the Sadhvi Pragya Singh have been bitter critics of each other for years, mostly triggered by the Congress leader’s sharp statements against her after she was named as a terror suspect in the 2008 bomb blasts that killed six people in Maharashtra’s Malegaon. She was also an accused in the murder of Sunil Joshi, a worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) who was shot dead in December 2007. Sadhvi Pragya Singh  Thakur was later acquitted in the case.

Digvijaya Singh was one of the key faces in the Congress to issue statements against what he described as “Hindu fundamentalists”.

In her first media interaction on Wednesday, Sadhvi Pragya Singh recalled the role that Digvijaya Singh had played in building the narrative on Hindu fundamentalists. “The seed that he sowed... linking Hindutva and saffron to terrorism... it was an insult and that will be an issue… I will fight to get respect for the saffron,” she said.

“We will unitedly fight against the people who are conspiring against the nation. We will win this ‘Dharm Yuddh’ (crusade),” she said, according to news agency ANI.

“After spending 10 years in jail due to Congress conspiracy, I have come here to fight the political and religious war,” she said, blaming the Congress for the trial in the Malegaon case in which she has been charged as an accused.

Pragya announced she had become a sadhvi in 2007 at the Allahabad Kumbh and was ordained by the popular seer Swami Avadheshanand Giri, the head of the powerful Juna Akhada.

The third of five children, Sadhvi Pragya Singh joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in the early nineties.

Thakur moved to Madhya Pradesh as her father was transferred from Jalaun district in Uttar Pradesh to Lahar in Bhind district of the central state in the seventies as an agriculture department employee. Her father again shifted to Surat around 2000 when Pragya was setting out for a post-graduation in history.

First Published: Apr 17, 2019 20:36 IST