Bhopal has been a bastion of the saffron party for the last two decades. It is among the eight Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh that will vote on 12 May in the sixth phase of elections in the state.
The last time that a Congress candidate won from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat was in 1984. Former President Shankar Dayal Sharma had got this seat for the party.
Singh has served as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for ten years from 1993 to 2003. He had previously contested from the Rajgarh seat and won twice in 1984 and 1991.
Bhopal is one of the most keenly watched seats in the elections. This is because Thakur, according to The Indian Express, had alleged that Singh conspired to get her falsely implicated in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. She had described Singh as an “anti-Hindu leader who called Hindus terrorists”.
The BJP has propped her as an answer to the Congress’ “Hindu terror” conspiracy. Party chief Amit Shah had also lashed out at Singh for coining the term “Hindu terror”.
In an interview with The Economic Times, Singh dismissed claims that he was the first one to use the term “Hindu terror”.
The Congress candidate is fighting the polls on his vision for the development of Bhopal. He has berated the Narendra Modi government for demonetisation, GST, and its failures to keep poll promises, according to The Print, but skips any mention of cow vigilantes or mob lynching incidents or anything about minorities.
In an interview with The Hindu, Singh said that he did not want to drag religion into politics and wants to fight the elections on the issues of jobs, poverty and infrastructure.
However, hundreds of sadhus on Tuesday trooped to the Madhya Pradesh capital to seek votes for Singh and campaign against Thakur.
They were led by Namdev Tyagi alias Computer Baba. They held a yagna in the form of Hath Yoga, followed by a road show. Computer Baba, who was recently appointed chairman of a river trust by the Congress government in the state, has extended his support to Singh.
Digvijaya Singh performed a havan in the presence of these sadhus, Times of India reported. The Bhopal District Collector ordered an inquiry into the events.
(With PTI inputs)