Bharatiya Janata Party leader and terror-accused Pragya Singh Thakur looks set to win the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat. This is Thakur’s first Lok Sabha election.
By around 3.30 pm, she had won 6.24 lakh votes in the constituency. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was trailing her by more than 2.55 lakh votes. The counting is still in progress. According to Election Commission data, Thakur had won 61.11% of the votes by 3.30 pm, while Singh had 36.09%.
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. Her candidature had surprised many, with several political observers seeing this as an obvious attempt by the BJP to polarise the electorate on religious lines. Bhopal has about 20.53 lakh voters, of whom 4.5 lakh are Muslim.
Thakur said she will definitely win the Lok Sabha poll in Bhopal, ANI reported. “My victory is the victory of righteousness and the destruction of sinfulness. I am grateful to the people of Bhopal,” Thakur said.
She also attributed her lead to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, News18 reported. “Whoever god selects to work for the nation, works,” Thakur said. “The biggest thing is that the public has instilled its faith in Modiji who has worked for the nation for five years. We are like an Army of workers.”
Thakur, however, avoided questions about Modi condemning her remark calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot.
Days after her candidature was announced, Thakur claimed that Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare had died in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack because she had put a curse on him. She was also 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.
Undeterred, last week, she stoked another controversy by claiming that 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. “This [Thakur’s comment] is terrible, and worthy of condemnation and anger,” Modi said in an interview. “She may have apologised but I will not be able to forgive her with my heart for this.”
During Thakur’s election campaign in Bhopal, Hindutva took centrestage, and developmental issues were put on the backburner. Thakur claimed that Hindutva and development are synonymous. She had accused the Congress of conducting “votebank politics” by appealing to members of minority communities and had said that she is fighting to uphold Hindutva.