Lok Sabha Elections 2019: BJP considering fielding Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal to take on Digvijaya Singh - Hindustan Times
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Lok Sabha Elections 2019: BJP considering fielding Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal to take on Digvijaya Singh

Hindustan Times, Bhopal | By
Mar 25, 2019 11:57 AM IST

The issue was discussed at a meeting of top leaders, including president of BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit Rakesh Singh, former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, general secretary (organisation) Suhash Bhagat on Sunday, the functionaries said.

The BJP is considering fielding former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from Bhopal after the Congress announced Digvijaya Singh’s name from the parliamentary constituency for the Lok Sabha election 2019, party functionaries have said.

Former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been a member of Parliament from Vidisha five times in a row from 1991 to 2004, is said to be averse to contesting Lok Sabha elections this time from Bhopal(PTI)
Former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been a member of Parliament from Vidisha five times in a row from 1991 to 2004, is said to be averse to contesting Lok Sabha elections this time from Bhopal(PTI)

The Congress had released its eighth list of 38 candidates for the April-May parliamentary election on Saturday, nominating Singh from Bhopal. The capital of Madhya Pradesh is considered as one of the safest seats for the BJP in the Lok Sabha with the party winning polls since 1989.

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The issue was discussed at a meeting of top leaders, including president of BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit Rakesh Singh, former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, general secretary (organisation) Suhash Bhagat on Sunday, the functionaries said.

“Digvijaya Singh is not a challenge for the BJP. He is a challenge for the Congress itself. The BJP will win with a huge margin again in the ensuing polls,” Rakesh Singh said later.

The BJP wants to field a political heavyweight against Digvijaya Singh instead of any second or third rung leader to give a tough fight to Singh. The BJP’s Alok Sanjar had won the seat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls with a huge margin of 370,000 votes. Earlier, party veteran Kailash Joshi represented the seat for two terms.

Also Read | Not Bhopal, Digvijaya Singh okay to contest from MP’s Rajgarh. There’s a rider

Chouhan, who has been a member of Parliament from Vidisha five times in a row from 1991 to 2004, is not willing to throw his hat in the ring in Bhopal, BJP leaders said. He wants to remain in the state assembly as a fractured mandate there can give a chance to the BJP to form a government, they said.

If he has to contest he will like to fight from his erstwhile Lok Sabha seat of Vidisha, the leaders said. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is the BJP’s MP from Vidisha but she has announced her decision not to contest.

“I will abide by the party’s decision in this regard. Digvijaya Singh is no challenge to the BJP. We will win,” Shivraj Singh Chouhan, however, said.

A senior BJP leader, who didn’t want to be named, said the party is worried because of the presence of about 3.5 lakh Muslim voters in Bhopal.

“Also, the Congress won three seats out of seven in Bhopal in the state assembly elections last year,” the leader quoted above said.

“As Bhopal will be a prestige seat, we are looking for a senior leader to contest. That’s why in view of many party leaders ex-chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the most suitable candidate for the party. The party will consider any other name only when he refuses to contest from the seat,” he said.

Senior BJP leader Dr Hitesh Bajpai said, “Digvijaya Singh knows well he can’t win from Bhopal. That’s why he said his first choice was Rajgarh. It’s Congress’ infighting that he has been sent to Bhopal.”

The Congress party’s state unit, on its part, said Digvijaya Singh is a seasoned leader and will contest successfully from Bhopal.

“He has massive support in public. He will win hands down. That’s why the BJP is worried,” state Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said.

Polling will be held in Bhopal on May 12, the sixth of the seven-phased Lok Sabha election 2019. The counting will take place on 23 May.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    M Tariq Khan is a Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times political bureau in Lucknow. He has spent over a decade doing development and investigative journalism. Apart from covering political parties and various departments of Uttar Pradesh Government, he also writes on minorities politics and has a flair for offbeat stories.

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