How the Congress is trying to match BJP's growing clout in MP

The party has tried to match BJP trick for trick in Madhya Pradesh. Some tricks may have worked for it but others might boomerang.

Chandrakant Naidu March 26, 2014 20:02:05 IST
How the Congress is trying to match BJP's growing clout in MP

Bhopal: Underdog Congress seems happy to have escaped media attention over the past few days with the bickering in BJP hogging all limelight.

The party has tried to match BJP trick for trick in Madhya Pradesh. Some tricks may have worked for it but others might boomerang. After the BJP lured away its Lok Sabha candidate Bhagirath Prasad from Bhind shortly after the Congress offered him the ticket. The Congress retaliated by getting the Food Minister Vijay Shah’s elder Ajay Shah to defect to its fold shortly afterwards. The resultant changes could see the two brothers slugging it out at Betul.

How the Congress is trying to match BJPs growing clout in MP

Fighting for pride. Reuters

But, the Congress overreached itself in conducting a sting operation to accuse former BJP chief minister Kailash Joshi of demanding Rs 1 crore.

Kailash Joshi has all along been seen as the honest face of BJP. His jocular remarks have apparently been twisted for cheap tricks. He was the most favoured candidate for chief minister’s office when the BJP came to power in 1990. Much against the opinion of the legislature party Sundarlal Patwa was made the chief minister because his worldly wise ways were the need of the hour. Even his adversaries have rarely questioned Kailash Joshi’s integrity. The question being asked is not about the Congress’ naivety but about who in the BJP could have aided the rivals in such scandalous operation. The Congress might end up with some negative points out of the episode.

By fielding Laxman Singh, the younger brother of AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh from Vidisha against senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj the Congress has unwittingly wrong-footed the senior Singh. Digvijaya had once said Sushma would make a better prime ministerial candidate than Narendra Modi. Now launching his campaign for Laxman Singh, Digvijaya says Sushma has done little for Vidisha over the past five years to deserve a win. She has never spent 24 hours at a stretch in her constituency in five years, the junior Singh had said while announcing his arrival in Vidisha. Digvijaya and Swaraj seem to have a formed a mutual admirers’ club. Now even Swaraj says Digvijaya could make a better prime minister than Rahul Gandhi.

On Ajay Shah’s arrival Congress is rethinking over its nominees at three constituencies -- Betul, Dhar and Khajuraho.

The BJP could replace its candidate Jyoti Dhurve to field Vijay Shah the Congress could offer Betul ticket to Ajay who had already questioned Dhurve’s tribal credentials. The Congress which fielded Rahul Chauhan a Korku tribal from Betul is busy dealing with the Korku backlash. Korkus form a sizeable number in the constituency.

The party is also rethinking on the Dhar constituency on the intervention of vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Umang Singhar, nephew of former leader of the opposition Jamuna Devi, was the party’s choice after the sitting MP Gajendra Singh Rajukhedi was inexplicably denied re-nomination from Dhar. Rajukhedi’s ticket is likely to be restored.

Resentment persists over the Congress candidate for Khajuraho. The party had finalised Raja Pateria’s name in the first list but the MLA from Vijayraghogarh, Sanjay Pathak has strongly protested against the decision and has threatened to leave the party. Pateria happens to be Digvijaya Singh’s supporter and Bundelkhand leaders are up against him. Why the party gives such importance to Pathak is a mystery.

Arjun Singh’s son Ajay Singh is a reluctant candidate from Satna seat while he was keen to run from Sidhi. Reports suggest some groups are opposing Ajay Singh’s candidature after he filed his nomination papers.

The other problem staring the Congress in the face is the absence of a Muslim candidate in its list of 29. The senior leaders have had a tough time placating the Bhopla MLA Arif Aqueel who has refused to campaign for party candidate. More than the resentment among the minorities the Congress should be worried about how the BJP is going to exploit the issue.

Congress has won over two important BSP leaders Ramdayal Prabhakar from Bhind and Baijnath Kushwaha of Morena. Though Prabhakar has joined the party the ticket has gone to Imarti Devi, the two-term MLA from Dabra. Despite a rural background, Imarti Devi has impressed the party leaders with her performance in the assembly. She could give a tough fight to Bhagirath Prasad who replaces the BJP’s sitting MP Ashok Argal.

BSP had denied Kushwaha a ticket from Morena. He is known for his strong oratory. The Congress has not offered a ticket either.

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