The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday fielded Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, against senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh from the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to the polls in the sixth phase on May 12.
The announcement was made hours after Sadhvi Pragya joined the BJP and said that she would "fight against those who are conspiring against the nation."
"I will bring honour to saffron," she said soon after her name was announced as a candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat by former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Sadhvi Pragya said the people who insult religion are weak by nature. She said she would bring back glory to Hindutva and act against those who have misused the law for implementing women, sanyasi and Hindu leaders.
Former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan while addressing reporter here said Sadhvi Pragya will work for the welfare of the nation, providing a better life to the people, and make national security of the country stronger.
"I welcome Sadhvi Pragya ji in Bhopal. Hope you enjoy the civilized atmosphere of this delightful city. I pray to Mother Narmada (goddess-river) for her blessings for Sadhvi ji so that we can all follow the path of truth and non-violence," Digvijaya Singh tweeted.
Chouhan told reporters that the party has made a strategy to ensure Sadhvi Pragya's victory from Bhopal.
After joining the party, Sadhvi Pragya said: "I have formally joined the BJP; I will contest the elections and will win. We will fight against those who are conspiring against the nation. We will work together against those people to save our nation."
She has also met Chouhan and other senior BJP leaders at the party office on Wednesday.
Bhopal's sitting BJP MP Alok Sanjar welcomed the decision, saying the party members would support Sadhvi and work hard to ensure victory for her in the polls.
Sadhvi Pragya is expected to polarise the Hindu votes besides splitting the Rajput votes in the Bhopal constituency which has nearly 18 lakh voters, including around 4.5 lakh Muslims.
The BJP has been holding this seat since 1989. The Congress had last won the seat in 1984 when K.N. Pradhan defeated Laxminarayan Sharma of the BJP by over 1 lakh votes.
FROM MALEGAON BLAST TAINT TO BHOPAL HUSTINGS: SADHVI PRAGYA'S JOURNEY FROM JAIL TO POLITICS
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a Hindu sanyasi (hermit), who is out on bail in the 2008 Malegaon blast case and has spent nearly nine years in jail, was on Wednesday declared a BJP candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha against senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh.
According to Sadhvi Pragya her arrest in the Malegaon blast case was politically motivated to endorse the bogey of saffron terrorism, a term coined by the former Union minister P. Chidambaram.
After getting bail from the Bombay High Court in April 2017, Sadhvi Pragya blamed Chidambaram for the putting her behind bars, alleging that she was "falsely implicated in the case to endorse the bogey of saffron terrorism".
Soon after the announcement of her candidature from Bhopal, Sadhvi Pragya admitted that she is inexperienced in the politics but ready to take the charge to bring honour to 'saffron', whose image has been tarnished by the opposition party.
Alok Sanjar, who has left Bhopal seat for Sadhvi Pragya, agreed that she had been harassed and implicated in a false case, and that now she would take revenge by winning the election.
Sadhvi Pragya reportedly revealed that she was brutally tortured in illegal police custody for 23 days continuously during interrogation, and was denied access to her lawyer and family members.
Sadhvi Pragya, who has always remained in the news for making controversial remarks, had been associated with the RSS-linked youth outfit Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the 'Durga Vahini', the women's wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
Sadhvi Pragya was arrested in October 2008 in the case. Later another prime accused Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit was arrested in the case in November that year.
Both were charged with plotting the blasts as part of a pro-Hindu group, Abhinav Bharat.
In May 2016, National Investigating Agency, which is probing the Malegaon case, dropped stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) charges against her in its chargesheet filed before a local court in Mumbai.
The investigating agencies had said earlier that the terror strike was carried out allegedly by the right-wing group, Abhinav Bharat and a total of 11 accused, including Sadhvi and Purohit were arrested.
At least seven persons were killed and 80 injured in the blast in Malegaon, a Muslim-dominated powerloom town in Nashik district on September 29, 2008.
At the time of her arrest, the Sadhvi was charged for allegedly planning the terror blast and providing a two-wheeler that was used to plant the bomb.
Nearly eight years later after the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) presented videos and transcripts purportedly showing Sadhvi as part of conspiracy meetings for the 2008 Malegaon blasts, both the ATS and NIA backtracked before the court.
Sadhvi Pragya, who has earlier blamed Congress-led UPA government, has said that she would "fight against those who are conspiring against the nation."
She has been booked in former RSS pracharak Sunil Joshi murder case but was acquitted by a Dewas court in Madhya Pradesh in February 2017. Joshi was shot dead a few hundred meters from his rented house in Chuna Khadan area of Dewas on December 29, 2007.