UNFAZED BY disappointing signals from New Delhi, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh’s supporters lobbied hard for his wife Sadhana Singh on Wednesday as BJP State election committee sat down to discuss party candidates for Vidisha and Bada Malehra by-elections.
The State Congress election committee, which also met on Wednesday, authorised Sonia Gandhi to select candidates for the two by-polls. Chouhan’s ministerial colleagues Rampal Singh and Laxmikant Sharma were active for Sadhana’s candidature in Bhopal and Narendra Singh Tomar and Anup Mishra lobbied in New Delhi.
The efforts bore fruit in the sense that the State Election Committee agreed to include Sadhana Singh’s name in the panel of prospective candidates for the Vidisha seat.
Rampal Singh and Laxmikant Sharma are the other two in the panel. Five names were empanelled for the Bada Malehra assembly by-poll. They are Urban Administration and Development Minister Jayant Malaiya’s wife Sudha Malaiya, Lalita Yadav, Chhatarpur district BJP president Umesh Shukla, Jujhar Singh and Shivraj Singh.
According to party sources, there was no opposition to Sadhana Singh’s name at the meeting although a number of members are opposed to her candidature.
“We did not oppose the name because we know that ultimately the final decision is to be taken by the party central leadership which has already decided the name of Varun Gandhi for Vidisha,” one member told the Hindustan Times.
The meeting, which was to be held at 11.30 am, was postponed as the CM was supposed to return from Delhi in the evening. After his return, the CM went to the residence of former chief minister Sunderlal Patwa. They later met State BJP president Satyanarayan Jatia and former chief minister Kailash Joshi. Chouhan’s body language betrayed his dejection.
In New Delhi, at the informal discussions among top BJP leaders for naming the party’s nominee for Vidisha remained inconclusive on Wednesday, former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee continued to favour Varun Gandhi’s nomination but Shivraj Singh Chouhan wanted his wife or one of the local leaders to be considered for the seat. The discussions will continue and the BJP central election committee will make a formal announcement on Friday, party leaders said.
The MP BJP unit echoed Chouhan, who argued that the people of Vidisha wanted a “local” candidate. But senior BJP leaders told Chouhan that his plea for the nomination of his wife, Sadhana, was not appropriate.
Chouhan was told that the BJP leadership did not approve of efforts by some state ministers to plead for his wife’s case. Vajpayee is understood to have taken the line that the BJP had to utilise Varun Gandhi’s services in the future and his election to the Lok Sabha would serve the party’s objectives. He was backed by L K Advani.
At the State capital, those who attended the BJP meeting, included Chouhan, Kaptan Singh Solanki, Sunderlal Patwa, Kailash Joshi, Krishnamurari Moghe, Ramkrishna Kusmaria, Maya Singh and Chandramani Tripathi. Jatia presided over the meeting.
Conspicuous by their absence were Vikram Verma, Laxminarayan Pandey and Babulal Gaur. Laxmikant Sharma and Ram Pal Singh held meeting with the BJP leaders from Vidisha, Raisen and Sehore and the State leaders.