Before Kanti Lal Bhuria was elevated Union minister in 2004, he was often criticized on grounds that he had done precious little for his constituency, Ratlam-Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh.
Post elevation the criticism remained but was in hushed tones primarily because his peer group could not figure out who pulled it off for him: Was it his mentor Digvijay Singh former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh? Was it his tribal status? Or sheer luck?
The guessing game is still on particularly after his induction the second time around and elevation from a minister of state in 2004 to a Cabinet minister in 2009.
While his political opponent, BJP’s Dilip Singh Bhuria, makes no bones about branding him corrupt, his supporter Harbans Singh, currently Deputy Speaker in the state Assembly plays down the allegation: “Not much…a trifle here and there but nothing major” he told HT. Prod him and he says: “Who, except Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, have escaped allegations being leveled against them? Bhuriaji is therefore no exception”. On his part, Singh describes him as a “rising star” in politics: “He is on the anvil of being a leader and that is why there is political rivalry”.
By his own admission, Bhuria was initially among those who hitched a ride on former Chief Minister Arjun Singh’s bandwagon and later ended up as a staunch supporter of Digvijay Singh, also state’s erstwhile Chief Minister: “These two leaders were my route: Arjun Singh showed me the road to Bhopal and Digijay Singh to Delhi” he concedes. If BJP’s Bhuria is to be believed, his Delhi stint is thanks to his political clout rather than his performance.
Bhuria told Hindustan Times: “Kanti Lal Bhuria misused the tribal tag and on the basis of a false certificate got a petrol pump allotted for his wife, who is a non tribal. How can someone who misrepresents facts for personal gain do anything for welfare of the people, particularly the tribals?”.
The petrol pump allotment was later cancelled: “Political vendetta” claims Union Minister Bhuria: “Because there was a controversy we returned the petrol pump” he said.
His initial forays in state politics notwithstanding, Bhuria made his debut on the national scene in 1998 when he entered Parliament as a Lok Sabha Member.
An MP for four consecutive terms, Bhuria did not think beyond bagging a decent job in the government and leading a quiet life with his family. He took the exam to serve in the Police and was even selected.
When an MLA ticket came his way, thanks to his aggressive postures as a student leader, the temptation was too much to resist.