MP 2013: Is BJP's Shivraj Chouhan on the back foot?

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s surprise decision to contest both Budhni and Vidisha seats in the upcoming assembly elections has set tongues wagging. While some are interpreting it as a bold step others see it as a sign of panic. Chouhan whose popularity rating is projected as high as 78 in the recent opinion polls is the only candidate from both the parties to have filed his nomination from two seats.

Party insiders relate a tale hanging by the decision to move to Vidisha which shot into news three months ago with the sacking of finance minister Raghavji for homosexual exploitation of his aide. Raghavji represented Vidisha for five terms before the party showed him the door at the instance of Chouhan. Raghavji was accorded an unusually warm welcome in Vidisha where he accused Chouhan of getting him framed to get the Vidisha seat secured for himself. Raghavji wanted his daughter to contest the seat and approached Sushma Swaraj, member of Lok Sabha from Vidisha.

Swaraj extracted a promise from Raghavji that he would help Chouhan who would contest from Vidisha. What Raghavji got in the bargain would be known later, but he went to Chouhan and promised all help. Raghavji’s absence from the scene could have cost the party four of the five seats from the district. Chouhan hopes to mitigate the damage. His rival in Vidisha is Shashank Bhargav whom the Congress fielded relaxing its norm of denying tickets to candidates who lost previous elections by over 10000 votes.

BJP workers wearing Shivraj Singh Chouhan face masks at a rally. AFP

BJP workers wearing Shivraj Singh Chouhan face masks at a rally. AFP

 

In Budhni the Congress has fielded Mahendra Singh Chauhan against the chief minister. While he was the union HRD minister party stalwart Arjun Singh had appointed Chauhan, a family loyalist, the chairman of Bhopal based Technical Teachers Training Institute. Now he has been rewarded as the loyalist of Arjun Singh’s son Ajay Singh. With all factional leaders of Congress deciding to keep the chief minister confined to Budhni a tough contest is promised.

While the focus stayed on the nominations to the key constituencies both the parties are busy dousing the rebellion over nominations. The violent protests seen this time around in both parties have aroused curiosity and concern. The district secretary of the party in Agar, Dr Narsingh Malviya ended his life by consuming poison after he was denied ticket. Several party workers vandalised the Congress party headquarters in Bhopal following the nomination of Devendra Patel the BJP legislator who switched to the Congress just a week ago. The Congress welcomed him with a ticket from Silwani incurring the workers’ ire. Patel who was elected on the ticket of Uma Bharti’s Bharatiya Jan Shakti (which subsequently merged with the BJP), left the ruling party citing humiliation of his leader as the reason for his joining the Congress.

In Shajapur another Congress nominee, the national chief organiser of Sewa Dal, Mahendra Joshi, was injured in an attack by unidentified persons. Among other prominent Congress leaders to protest are loyalists of former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, Manak Agrawal and P C Sharma. Agrawal resigned as vice president of the state unit and Sharma who was about to run as an independent was dissuaded by Singh against doing so. The latest threat by the party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to ensure the victory of the candidates in their areas or face demotion in the party seems to have worked.

The BJP headquarters was also vandalised allegedly by the supporters of Dhruv Narain Singh who was denied tickets as his name was linked to the accused in the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood in Bhopal last year.

Now, as the pre-election surveys go the latest ones released on Thursday present a contrasting picture. While one survey by a television channel shows the contest between the two major parties getting keener with the BJP only marginally ahead of the Congress, the other one by a news magazine shows the BJP winning hands down. The unusually violent scenario points to a keener contest as both the parties have aroused expectations of various caste constituents. It is quite understandable if the ruling party tickets are sought after but why are the people literally dying to be nominated for a party that has been written off by the pollsters?


Updated Date: Nov 10, 2013 09:50 AM

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