Despite his prized surname, reputation for oratory and support of BJP leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Varun Gandhi’s plans to become a parliamentarian were dashed on Friday as he failed to secure the party ticket for the Vidisha Lok Sabha seat. The party chose Madhya Pradesh Public Health Engineering Minister Rampal Singh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s confidant.
The party decided to field Kapur Chand Dhuwara from the Bada Malehra assembly seat from where rebel leader Uma Bharti had resigned.
At a meeting of the BJP’s Central Election Committee, Chouhan and other party leaders from Madhya Pradesh made a pitch for Rampal while Vajpayee and L.K. Advani supported Varun. Chouhan said Varun should be kept out to respect “local sentiments” and also to deny rebel leader Uma Bharti any scope to upset the BJP’s plan to retain the seat. Chouhan also asked the poll panel to ignore the “unanimous” proposal of the MP unit to consider his wife Sadhana Singh as a candidate.
“Left to the central leaders, Varun would have been chosen. But the resistance from the MP unit was so strong, we had to go by their choice,” said a BJP leader. The poll is on October 30.
Although RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan was not against Varun’s nomination, Chouhan convinced Sangh leaders that Varun would lose because of the Bharti factor. Chouhan said a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty would make no difference to BJP workers in Vidisha, considered the borough of the Chouhan family.
The credit goes to Chouhan for Rampal’s nomination. His insistence on local candidate finally overwhelmed the BJP leadership. Chouhan didn’t push Sadhna Singh’s candidature. He wanted Rampal as the candidate. Sadhna’s name was added to the probables panel as a bargaining chip.
For the sensitive Bhagalpur Lok Sabha seat, the poll panel recommended its Muslim face, Shahnawaz Hussain, despite hints from the RSS, which wanted a Hindu candidate.
The Bihar unit, especially Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, recommended Hussain though he is rated an “outsider” and Bhagalpur has a history of communal violence. Modi, who vacated the seat on his election to the state legislative council, said Hussain would be able to woo the Muslim-Yadav vote bank.
Central BJP leaders saw in Hussain an opportunity to send a Muslim MP to Lok Sabha and ncounter the secular brigade’s charge that the party is anti-minority. The panel named journalist Pranav Kumar Verma, son of former MP Ritlal Verma, as its candidate for Koderma Lok Sabha seat in Jharkhand — vacated by Babulal Marandi when he quit the BJP. Kuberchand Guhara is the candidate for Malhera assembly constituency in MP. He is likely to contest against Bharti.