Madhya Pradesh elections: Discord in Congress, BJP ranks over award of tickets
Having declared candidates for 193 of the 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is battling unrest in its ranks with two senior leaders declaring their intention of contesting the polls as rebel candidates, and district offices witnesses sustained protests by those denied a chance to contest the polls.
The BJP is looking to secure a fourth straight term in the state, and has dropped 39 MLAs and six ministers in the two lists of candidates that have been declared so far, in a bid to stave off anti-incumbency. But supporters of many of these leaders MLAs have been staging protests in six districts , such as Tikamgarh, Sehore and Guna, and the state BJP headquarters in Bhopal.
In comparison, there are fewer protests in the Congress. The state goes to the polls on November 28.
To quell the dissidence, the BJP has asked Union mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar to hold talk with leaders not happy with ticket distribution and allay their apprehensions.
His first assignment was in Indore on Monday, where the party had to hold back on declaring candidates in nine assembly seats after differences cropped up between Lok Sabha speaker and local MP Sumitra Mahajan and sitting legislator and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya over certain seats, said party leaders on condition of anonymity. “Tomar ji has gone to sort out differences between them (Mahajan and Vijayvargiya) over nomination of candidate in a certain seat,” said a senior BJP leader familiar with the matter.
Former chief minister Babulal Gaur, 88, whom Shivraj Singh Chouhan replaced in 2005, has expressed his intention to contest from Govindpura seat in Bhopal, from where he has been winning since 1974, but claimed that he is a “loyal soldier”.
“I am waiting for the party’s decision. When the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has said to me ‘Babulal Gaur, Ek baar aur’ then there is nothing left for speculation,”he said on Monday, adding that he won the last assembly election with a margin of 70,000 votes.
Another senior leader Sartaj Singh, 78, has reportedly told the party leaders that they were risking a seat if they fielded another candidate from his constituency, Seoni Malwa in Hoshangabad district, said leaders in the BJP.
“I have conveyed my feeling to the party,” he said on Monday, when asked about it. Both Gaur (88) and Singh (78) were dropped from the state cabinet in 2016, apparently because of the BJP’s unwritten rule that bars anyone beyond 75 from holding public office.
The dissidence has spread lower down the ranks as well. Sitting BJP MLA from Guna, Panna Lal Shakya, said on Sunday in the state BJP office, “I have come to ask the party leaders why I have been denied ticket.”
Another BJP legislator from Tikamgarh, KK Shrivastava, said that despite working for the party for more than 25 years, he was denied a ticket. “I am a committed worker of the BJP and have strengthened the organisation with my sweat and blood. I will not allow unscrupulous and crooked persons to destroy the BJP,” he said.
BJP spokesperson Prabhat Jha said, “Nobody is superior to the party. Once the party takes its decision we have to comply with it.”
The opposition Congress is facing most of its infighting from the tribal-dominated region of the state.
A group of party workers said to be supporters of party leader Xavier Meda burnt an effigy of Congress MP Kantilal Bhuria at Jhabua on Sunday to protest his son Vikrant Bhuria’s candidature while another protested against the candidature of Hiralal Alawa from Dhar’s Manawar seat. Alawa is the president of a new organisation Jay Adivasi Yuva Sangthan (JAYS) which had said that it would contest more than 70 seats on its own.
State Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said, “Party workers have their right to express their views. We are in talks with them.”
Political analyst Girija Shankar said Gaur’s and Singh’s protests were of significance to the BJP but both leaders had damaged their prospects by their defiance.
“In Congress, all factions have understood unity is a must for regaining power whereas in the BJP, there is a lot of infighting and this may affect the party’s poll prospects,” said political analyst LS Hardenia.