Arjun campaigns in Sidhi, but for whom?
Suspense reigned in Sidhi, 630 km east of Bhopal, all morning and early afternoon on Tuesday. Would HRD minister Arjun Singh actually turn up to campaign against his own daughter, contesting as an independent against the official Congress candidate? Ranjan reports.bhopal Updated: Apr 22, 2009 03:04 IST
Suspense reigned in Sidhi, 630 km east of Bhopal, all morning and early afternoon on Tuesday. Would HRD minister Arjun Singh actually turn up to campaign against his own daughter, contesting as an independent against the official Congress candidate?
Around 4 pm, he did. He spoke for less than three minutes.
The 79-year-old Congressman’s plea for a Lok Sabha seat for his daughter Veena Singh, 56, from Sidhi had been turned down by the high command. It was the seat he had himself represented several times in the Lok Sabha before. His son Ajeya Singh is presently MLA from one of the assembly segments of Sidhi — Churhat, the region the family hails from.
Unfazed, Veena filed her nomination papers as an Independent against the Congress nominee, Indrajit Patel. Arjun Singh too had openly voiced to a television channel his dismay at his daughter’s claim having been overlooked.
Not content with having ignored Singh’s recommendation, the Congress also insisted he campaign for the official candidate.
Singh’s voice was barely audible as he spoke in the local Baghelkhandi dialect, reading from a prepared text. He mentioned neither Indrajit Patel’s name, nor his daughter’s.
“When you’re old, and your health is poor, people stop listening to you,” said Singh, seated in a wheelchair. “I’m in pain and therefore unable to speak for long. I’ll return to see you all after I get better.”
Singh’s company on the dais gave confusing signals indeed. On the one hand there was his son and Churhat MLA Ajeya. Ajeya was genuinely opposed to his sister contesting the poll once she had been denied the Congress ticket, and said so repeatedly.
But there were also Singh’s grandson — Veena’s son — Aishwarya and his wife Devyani. The couple had been camping in Sidhi for days, campaigning for Veena!
In his speech Ajeya too avoided any mention of Veena, preferring only to attack the BJP candidate. Still more confusingly Arjun Singh’s wife Saroj was seen accompanying daughter Veena while she went campaigning on Monday.