Hours after the BJP fielded Hindutva activist Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur against him from Bhopal, Congress leader Digvijay Singh Wednesday took a dig at her, saying he hoped she will be "attracted" by the "peaceful and dignified" environment of the capital city. Thakur, facing trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, will take on Singh in the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, a BJP citadel.
The Congress stalwart took to micro-blogging site Twitter to "welcome" the right-wing activist, who spent several years in jail before being granted bail in 2017. Singh said he hoped the "peaceful and dignified" environment of Bhopal would "attract" the saffron leader. "I welcome Sadhvi Pragyaji in Bhopal and hope that the picturesque city's peaceful, educated and dignified environ would attract you," the former chief minister tweeted. "I pray to Maa (goddess) Narmada for Sadhviji and seek blessing from Narmadaji (holy river) so that we all walk the path of truth, non-violence and religion. Narmada Har (glory be to the Narmada)," Singh said in another tweet.
The sadhvi became the face of right-wing extremism after being arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad in the blast case. On December 27, 2017, a special NIA court had dropped stringent charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against Thakur and other accused. Six persons were killed and 101 were injured when an improvised explosive device strapped on a motorcycle went off at Malegaon in Nashik district of Maharashtra on September 29, 2008. Born in Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh, Thakur has had a long association with the RSS, the ideological mentor of the BJP.
A post-graduate in history, she worked with the RSS student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Durga Vahini, the women's wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. The high-profile poll battle between Thakur and Singh, a known RSS basher, will be close watched. The Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, which has over 18 lakh voters, including 4.5 lakh from the minority community, will go to the polls on May 12. The BJP has been winning the seat since 1989. Alok Sanjar is the sitting MP from the constituency.
(With inputs from agencies.)