As Lok Sabha election results arrive on Thursday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be looking to continue its unbeaten streak in Bhopal. The saffron party has not lost Lok Sabha polls in this urban seat since 1989. BJP candidate, and terror accused, Pragya Thakur will be contesting former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh.
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Thakur is currently being tried for terrorism charges in connection with the Malegaon blasts in 2008 that killed six people. She is out on bail on health grounds. During Thakur’s election campaign in Bhopal, Hindutva took centre-stage. She claimed that Hindutva and development are synonymous. She has accused the Congress of conducting “votebank politics” by appealing to members of minority communities and has said that she is fighting to uphold Hindutva.
She also claimed that she had been tortured in jail and that she is contesting to ensure that no woman faces such atrocities in prison.
Days after her candidature was announced, Thakur claimed that 26/11 hero who was killed in action, Hemant Karkare, died because she'd cursed him. She was subsequently reprimanded by the Election Commission for her statement expressing “extreme pride” in having participated in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.
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Undeterred, last week, she stoked another controversy by claiming that MK Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse was a patriot. Though she apologised for the remarks, the controversy forced Prime Minister Narendra Modi to attempt some damage control: he claimed that he would never forgive Thakur for what she said.
Bhopal voted on May 12. The constituency has about 20.53 lakh voters, of whom 4.5 lakh are Muslim, according to The Economic Times.
Digvijaya Singh, on his part, attempted to maintain a balance between appealing to both Hindu and Muslim voters. In an attempt to dispel Thakur’s claim that he was “anti-Hindu ”, he participated in havans (Hindu religious ceremonies) and visited several temples.
In a recent tweet, Singh asserted his confidence in the Congress party and its victory.
सभी कांग्रेस प्रत्याशियों को हार्दिक शुभकामनाएँ। जीत हमारी ही होगी। नर्मदे हर।— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) May 23, 2019
Having served as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for ten years from 1993 to 2003, Singh has considerable political experience under his belt. BJP’s Alok Sanjar had in 2014 won the seat with a vote margin of almost 3.8 lakh against Congress’ PC Sharma.
Poll agencies have predicted a landslide win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh. The News18-IPSOS Exit Poll has predicted 24-27 seats for the BJP and two-four for the Congress.