Congress in ?no haste? | india | Hindustan Times
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Congress in ?no haste?

MLA AND MPCC observer for Budhni by-election, Arif Aqueel, today had a meeting with senior Congress leaders. However, choice of Congress candidate against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is still confounding the party.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2006 13:51 IST

MLA AND MPCC observer for Budhni by-election, Arif Aqueel, today had a meeting with senior Congress leaders. However, choice of Congress candidate against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is still confounding the party.

Another round of discussion is expected tomorrow on probable party candidates and a strategy to pose some challenge to the Chief Minister.

“We are not in a haste to choose our candidate. We are looking for a candidate who could win against Chouhan. Final decision regarding candidate will come from the high command but the State leadership will discuss probable candidates only on the basis of Aqueel’s report”, said State Congress spokesperson Manak Agrawal. He was also involved in the discussions today.

As and when talk about Congress candidate from Budhni arises, someone from Patel family of Baktara (former minister Rajkumar Patel, his brother Dev Kumar Patel and sister-in-law and former mayor of Bhopal Vibha Patel) figures as possible choice.

But the diminishing influence of All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is supposed to be political mentor of the family, in the affairs of the State Congress, coupled with reluctance of Patels themselves to take on the Chief Minister has left scope for other candidates as well.

Rajkumar Patel had lost to Rajendra Singh of the BJP from the same seat by a margin of over 10,000 votes in December 2003 State election.

Vibha Patel, who is ‘jobless’ for quite sometime after demitting office of Mayor might be willing to contest but if the Congress is looking for a strong candidate against the Chief Minister, her claim seems weak. Moreover, the Congress is also observing moves of expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti as regard Budhni by-polls. So far, she seems to have decided to play it cool, perhaps in the hope of getting back into the BJP fold.

Significantly, she has not given a single statement regarding Budhni by-election so far. Recent hailstorms and unseasonal rains wreaking havoc in large parts of the State including areas under Budhni constituency could be a source of some worries for the Chief Minister. However, he was quick to send his trusted lieutenant Minister for Panchayat and Rural Development Narendra Tomar immediately after the hailstorm struck the area for the first time to take stock of the situation.

Not just this, he has also announced some sops for development of the constituency including a couple of industries setting up base there. In the absence of clarity among Opposition parties, including the Congress, Gondwana Ganatantra Party and others, on how to corner the Chief Minister and failure to identify right candidate till now, it seems a smooth sailing for Chouhan so far.