(PTI Photo)
(PTI Photo)

It comes as a surprise to many that Sadhvi Pragya Thakur is leading in Bhopal against Digvijay Singh. The BJP was ahead in 28 of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh while the Congress was leading in one seat, as per trends available so far. BJP’s Pragya Singh Thakur was leading over Congress’ Digvijay Singh by 44,222 votes in Bhopal

A month before, the ruling BJP had sprung a surprise by givinsg the ticket to Thakur who is battling allegations of involvement in terror activities including a bomb blast in Malegaon town of Maharashtra in 2008. She is currently out on bail. The Congress had also surprised everyone by fielding former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh who fell out of Congress leadership’s favour due to mishandling of party’s affairs post-election on Goa a couple of years ago.

Why Sadhvi?

BJP president Amit Shah has termed Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s candidature as a “Satyagraha” against the Congress’s alleged conspiracy of defaming Hindu religion by coining the term Hindu terror.

While the BJP projected her candidature as an answer to the Congress’ “minority appeasement” politics, the Congress tried its best to project Singh as a pro-Hindu candidate. Knowing well that any statement against Sadhvi Pragya and her Hindu credentials could hurt his prospects in the RSS-dominated seat, Singh avoided taking any pot shots at her and talked about ‘Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb’.

However, the BJP successfully made it a pro-Hindu vs pro-Muslim election in Bhopal. “Pragya Thakur’s candidature is a satyagraha against a fake case of fake bhagwa (saffron) terror. I want to ask Congress, some people were earlier arrested in ‘Samjhauta Express’ who were related to LeT (Lashkar-e-Toiba). A fake case of “bhagwa terror” was made in which the accused have been acquitted,” BJP President Amit Shah said during a May 17 press conference that was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During the poll campaigning, the BJP blamed Digvijaya Singh for inventing the term ‘Hindu terror’. Singh had actively spoken against the RSS, Sadhvi Pragya and Lt Col Shrikant Purohit after they were named in the Malegaon blast. Bhopal as a Lok Sabha seat has always been a BJP stronghold. The party has won 12 of the total 16 Lok Sabha elections held from the seat. The seat has always gone to the BJP’s kitty since 1989.

Aiming at the win

In a deeply polarising campaign, Pragya Thakur’s candidature has ensured that half the battle is already won for the BJP, not just in Bhopal but across India. In choosing to name Pragya Singh Thakur from Bhopal, the BJP, in its party chief Amit Shah’s words, has ensured that “the mastermind of the conspiracy to raise the bogey of Hindu terror” is punished.

Immediately after joining the BJP, Pragya Thakur said that she was keen to contest from Bhopal and was confident of her victory. As her candidature was announced the same day, she launched an offensive against Digvijaya Singh, accusing him of defaming “Sanatan Dharma”.

With Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur’s nomination, the BJP has put the Congress on the backfoot by going for a no-holds-barred campaign against ‘Hindu terror’.