After Advani and Joshi, is it the turn of Sumitra Mahajan?

After Advani an Joshi, is it the turn of Sumitra Mahajan?
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is one of the tallest BJP leaders from Madhya Pradesh.

Bhopal: They were upbeat about announcement of her candidature. To them it was only a matter of time. And the size of crowd at her residence in Indore till about a couple of days ago clearly bore that out.

After all, eight straight victories in last eight parliamentary elections beginning from 1989 attest to unstinting support for Sumitra Mahajan, one of the tallest BJP leaders from Madhya Pradesh and the Lok Sabha Speaker.

But a “glitch” – age parameter — cropped up and threatens to upset calculations of her diehard supporters and whole others who preferred her over any Congress candidate in the past 30 years. Mahajan would be turning 76 this April.

Now suddenly, an encore of impressive victory run and setting a record looks iffy in her case, who is among only a few in the Lok Sabha, who went on to registering wins without a break. Nobody knows if it will come in her way. Many feel that after L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, it may affect her chances as well.

After Advani an Joshi, is it the turn of Sumitra Mahajan?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Sumitra, Tai to many, rose to prominence by humbling former chief minister and a Congress stalwart from Central India Prakash Chandra Sethi.

And as the suspense continues over the name of BJP candidate from Indore, a bellwether seat of sorts in Malwa-Nimar region, Congress is in wait and watch mode, preferring not to open its cards as of now.

After Advani an Joshi, is it the turn of Sumitra Mahajan?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with senior BJP leaders L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.

Asked about delay in announcement of the candidate’s name, Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi said, “Whosoever the party central leadership decides to field would contest.” As for rumours about senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia may be the party face from this seat, all he said was “Anyone can be fielded from Indore. People will come to know about the candidate once the name is out.”

Talk to BJP leaders about the delay and they quickly try to deflect it, saying Congress is way behind them in announcing names of candidates.

After Advani an Joshi, is it the turn of Sumitra Mahajan?
LS Speaker Sumitra Mahajan with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

When the issue was raised with BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal, he said, “We have already declared names of 15 candidates. Congress should first tell who it will field from Chhindwara and Guna seats.” Of the two seats, Kamal Nath had represented Chhindwara constituency for record number of times in his long political innings. Barring once, he had emerged victorious 10 times from the seat. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Scindia had won the Guna seat.

Indore is of one of the eight Lok Sabha seats in Malwa-Nimar region where the BJP and RSS have deep roots. It is from this region that the party began to expand footprint across the state. In 2014 Lok Saba elections, the party had made a clean sweep by winning all eight seats, taking its tally to 26 out of a total of 29 seats. A defeat on this seat would be a big blow and have many meanings. Anything like this will signal erosion in its base, something the party would like to avoid at all costs. Before the “Lotus” bloomed in other states and the saffron party began to aspire for pan-India presence, it was in Malwa-Nimar and Madhya Bharat region where the party from Jan Sangh days began to consolidate its position. Late Kushbhau Thakre and late Pyarelal Khandelwal, who built the party from scratch and worked for years to turn the party into a formidable force in the state, were from this region.

Mahajan still enjoys popularity among residents despite being a central leader. Pappu Rajguru, a trader, says, “If Sumitraji is fielded from here, there is no doubt about her victory. But in case of her absence, there will be a close fight for the BJP.”

Now all eyes are on Indore, considered a BJP stronghold. In the wake of chief minister Kamal Nath’s assertion that party veterans should fight from tough seats, political circles are abuzz with rumours that the party may declare him as the candidate to wrest the seat.

Lok Sabha Elections 2019 | Madhya Pradesh

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and mayor and MLA from Indore-4 seat Malini Gaud are two other leaders said to be in the reckoning for the seat. Before Vijayvargiya became party’s national general secretary, he had won six assembly elections from Indore. Political observers say if the party applies age formula to Mahajan, there is a good possibility of either of two staking claim to the prestigious seat.

When Vijayvargiya was a minister in Madhya Pradesh, he was considered rival of Mahajan in local politics. But after he moved to party’s central apparatus—now tasked with West Bengal affairs, sources say he would extend his support to anyone who is fielded from the seat.

After Advani an Joshi, is it the turn of Sumitra Mahajan?
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.

Both leaders are familiar faces in Indore and are known for pro-active approach and people connect. With her as Mayor, Indore was declared cleanest city in the country, helping Malini Gaud strengthen an image of a doer. But as she is an MLA, it can work against her. In the 230-seat assembly, BJP has a strength of 109 against 114 of the Congress.  

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