The once-most-dreaded bandit of the badlands of Chambal in Madhya Pradesh, Malkhan Singh, is now the face of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the poll-bound State.

Singh, who was the byname of fear in the 1970s, who went by the name of Chambal’s Lion, was charged with killing 32 police personnel apart from 185 other people till 1983.

Sharing dais with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the latter reached Guna on his Jan Ashirwad Yatra on Sunday, the former bandit, who calls himself a rebel, castigated the Congress.

“In 50 years, the Congress created such a situation in India that several people took to banditry. In the last 15 years, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government has done a great job and as such there are no gangs in Gwalior-Chambal area. I like the way he speaks and conducts the government. He is also doing religious work,” Singh said.

Singh belongs to the Khangar caste and the community is widely distributed across perhaps all the 34 Assembly segments in the Gwalior-Chambal area. This area has been the traditional stronghold of the Scindias and the BJP this time has planned to uproot them using Singh as the mascot to sway crucial votes.

Singh, in turn is convinced too. “In this area, the Khangar vote-bank is significant: we are about 15,000-18,000 in every segment. I will go to the people in these elections and associate people with the BJP. I am not after a ticket to contest, rather I shall campaign for those who will get tickets,” Sigh added.

The dreaded bandit had surrendered in 1983 when the Congress’s Arjun Singh was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.