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EC sets date; BJP, Uma face by-poll test

BY-ELECTIONS TO Vidisha Lok Sabha and Bada Malehra Assembly seats will be held on October 30 and results will be declared on November 2.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2006 21:28 IST

BY-ELECTIONS TO Vidisha Lok Sabha and Bada Malehra Assembly seats will be held on October 30 and results will be declared on November 2.

Announcing the poll schedule in New Delhi, the Election Commission on Thursday said the by-polls would be notified on October 6. Candidates will have to file by October 13 their nomination papers which will be scrutinised on October 14. The last date for withdrawal of nomination is October 16. The entire poll process will be over by November 3.

The model code of conduct in the districts covering whole or part of Vidisha and Bada Malehra constituencies has come into force from Thursday.

The EC announcement triggered activities in the BJP and Bharatiya Janshakti (BJ). The names doing the rounds in the BJP for Vidisha included Varun Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj and Rampal Singh. The Bharatiya Janshakti, however, has not selected a candidate the Lok Sabha seat.

Political observers feel that if Uma Bharti decides to contest from Vidisha, the BJP will find the going tough. The seat is considered a saffron stronghold. A debacle will give Bharti and her party a big jolt. This, ultimately, may reflect on the BJ’s prospects in the next Assembly elections in the State.

BJP leaders and workers from Vidisha, who are sparing no efforts to show their loyalty to the Chief Minister, want Sadhana Singh, wife of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, to be fielded for the by-poll.

Ananth Kumar, BJP national secretary in charge of MP affairs, on Thursday gave a dressing down to a group of workers from Vidisha who intercepted him at the BJP office and demanded that Sadhana be fielded from Vidisha.

Central BJP leaders including A B Vajpayee, L K Advani, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu are said to favour Varun. RSS chief K S Sudarshan too supports his candidature to counter the younger generation of Congress leaders, led by Rahul Gandhi. A meeting of the BJP’s central election committee will be held in October first week for a final decision. Before that, the state BJP is likely to meet to indicate its preference.

Initially, the name of Sushma Swaraj, the BJP’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, was doing the rounds with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan strongly favouring her. Chauhan vacated the seat when he got elected to the state assembly from Budhni in May. Swaraj is believed to have conveyed to other BJP leaders that she is not too keen but will abide by the party’s wishes.

Swaraj was elected to Rajya Sabha from MP for a six-year term only in April. Besides, Rajnath does not want to disturb the BJP leadership in Parliament though some leaders feel Swaraj can boost the BJP’s voice in the Lower House, where Advani and V.K. Malhotra lead the party attack against the government. “I do not see any need for a change in the arrangement,” Rajnath had told HT a few days ago.

What Vidisha is to the BJ, Bada Malehra is to the BJP. The latter finds it difficult to select a suitable candidate who can overshadow Uma Bharti’s influence in the constituency. The BJ considers this seat a safe one but is not able to decide whether Bharti or anybody else be fielded from here to contest the seat.

First Published: Sep 29, 2006 21:28 IST