One of the most heated and controversial battles in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was waged over the prestigious Bhopal seat in Madhya Pradesh. It witnessed new BJP inductee Sadhvi Pragya taking on senior Congress leader and former state CM Digvijaya Singh, with both candidates courting controversy and putting their parties in difficult positions throughout the election season.
Sadhvi Pragya got a convincing victory by defeating Digvijaya Singh with a margin of 3 lakh votes.
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Bhopal is very much a bastion of the BJP as the party had done well there for nearly three decades. The seat has been in the BJP's kitty since the elections for the ninth Lok Sabha which took place in 1989 - 30 years.
In 2019, the BJP pitted 2008 Malegaon blasts case accused Sadhvi Pragya, currently on bail, against Digvijaya Singh who is known for having been a big proponent of the ‘Hindu terror/Saffron terror’ charge of the erstwhile UPA government.
Both Sadhvi Pragya and Digivijaya Singh went on a warpath, creating more controversies. Sadhvi Pragya, in particular, made several remarks during the campaigning phase which triggered outrage.
First, claiming that martyred ATS chief Hemant Karkare had held her in custody while questioning her in the terror case without any evidence, she said, "You will find it difficult to believe, when I cursed him that 'you will be annihilated', and just over a month later he was killed by terrorists, marking his end."
She later made a communal statement claiming that she was part of the mob which demolished Babri Masjid.
“I was present there (Ayodhya). I had broken the structure. I had demolished the structure. I will go there again. I will help in the construction of our Ram Temple. It is not a controversial issue. Ram Temple was there and I will help in constructing a magnificent temple of Lord Ram."
2019 Lok Sabha Election Results LIVE Updates: Vote-counting For 2019 Indian General Elections, Trends For All 542 Constituencies And Non-stop Analysis From Republic TV And Arnab Goswami Here As India Elects A New Government
Amid the elections, she called Nathuram Godse a patriot while reacting to actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan's remark where said that 'free India's first terrorist was a Hindu'.
The Election Commission had filed an FIR over her Babri Masjid comment and served her notices to explain her conduct following her statements on Karkare and Babri Masjid.
Meanwhile, Digvijaya Singh, appearing to be on a backfoot during campaigning, seemed to take desperate measures, finding refuge in the kind of show of ‘Hindutva’ that his own party routinely criticises. During his canvassing, even the police officials on duty in plain clothes claimed they were made to wear saffron scarves. Singh also surrounded himself with sadhus, most notably ‘Computer Baba’
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