Political activities set in motion for Budhni by-poll
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Political activities set in motion for Budhni by-poll

WITH THE resignation of Budhni MLA Rajendra Singh to pave the way for Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan?s entry in the State assembly, political activities have focused on the by-poll.

india Updated: Feb 16, 2006 14:45 IST

WITH THE resignation of Budhni MLA Rajendra Singh to pave the way for Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s entry in the State assembly, political activities have focused on the by-poll.

The Congress has decided to seek cooperation of all political parties, including expelled BJP leader Uma Bharti to corner the Chief Minister in by-election. The Congress today appointed Arif Aqueel as the election observer for the by-election. A convention of Congress workers is also being organised at Salkanapur on February 19 to discuss party’s strategy for the by-election.

State Congress spokesperson Manak Agrawal, who would be Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) representative at the meeting, said the party would try to corner Chouhan at Budhni with the help of all the political parties.

“We shall see to it that the Chief Minister is cornered at Budhni. We have no qualms in seeking help from anyone for the purpose, including Uma Bharti. He will be second leader after Kailashnath Katju to lose by-election as chief minister in MP,” said Agrawal, exuding confidence.

When asked whether a joint Opposition candidate would be put up against Chouhan to ensure a good fight, he said, “I cannot disclose the strategy as of now but Chouhan will definitely feel the heat,” he said.

Agrawal’s confidence notwithstanding, Chouhan must have decided to contest from Budhni after meticulous homework. Victory of any Chief Minister in a by-election is always a foregone conclusion but for some extraordinary circumstances.

Uma Bharti could be the only factor to create that situation for Shivraj Singh Chouhan, whose ascension to Chief Minister’s throne also occasioned the fiery Sanyasin’s ouster from the saffron party.

But, how far she would associate herself with the Congress in its efforts to turn the heat on Shivraj at Budhni is still a matter a conjecture.

Chouhan is not being over-confident either. The first election of his life to the Assembly was from Budhni in 1990 and he was elected then. But, later he resigned to contest for the Lok Sabha and never contested State Assembly election thereafter, except in the previous election when he contested against

the then Chief Minister Digvijay Singh from his hometown Raghogarh and succeeded in bringing down the margin of Digvijay’s victory margin drastically (from 52,000 votes to 21,000 votes).

The sizeable population of backward Kirar community, to which he belongs, in areas under Budhni constituency, is one big factor. This must have prompted the Chief Minister to choose Budhni for seeking election to the State Assembly.

He also had tours of Budhni at least twice after taking over reins of the State to test the ground realities before deciding to contest from the seat.

Kirars are second in terms of population after tribals but they have dominated politics in the constituency for a long time. Former minister Rajkumar Patel, who is also a Kirar and a pal of Chief Minister Shivraj as both had entered student politics almost at the same time in Bhopal, and his kin have dominated Congress politics from the seat.

Rajkumar Patel had won the seat in 1993 and also became a minister in the Digvijay Singh Government and when the party decided to drop him in the subsequent election in 1998, his brother Devkumar Patel was given ticket and he also won the election.

But, Rajkumar Patel lost to Rajendra Singh, also a Kirar, of the BJP in 2003 election, which saw an unprecedented anti-Congress wave in the State. Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Jamuna Devi today dispatched a letter to the Election Commission of India, seeking stay on implementation on development works to the tune of Rs 300 crore at Budhni announced by Chouhan after becoming the Chief Minister.

She said Chouhan always knew that he would be contesting election from Budhni and therefore he made all those announcements to ‘mislead’ the voters. She urged the Election Commission to appoint a special observer to check malpractices in the by-election.

First Published: Feb 16, 2006 14:45 IST