Bhopal: The delay in announcing name of BJP candidate for Bhopal seat is turning out to be more than a puzzle. And those eagerly waiting to hear the last word on the issue, well and truly, are foxed.
Congress is well aware that entry of party candidate and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh has somewhat restricted the choice of the saffron party. And realizing that it has forced the BJP to do a lot of calculations, many in Congress party are enjoying what they describe as the sense of unease in rival outfit. Observers feel the Congress move has tied the BJP in knots. As things stand, the Congress has a headstart.
It is more than a week since the Congress hit the ground running. The party is already in action mode. Leaders from the Congress in support of Digvijaya began campaigning, reaching out to sections of society. And wherever required, making placatory moves, particularly to those angry with the party for what they see as inept handling of issues like road, water, electricity and perceived anti-government policies before it was voted out of power.
Political circles were abuzz with rumours that Shivraj Singh Chouhan, former chief minister and currently a BJP MLA, could be a candidate against Digvijaya Singh.
In some sections of media, the name of Uma Bharti, a sitting BJP MP from Jhansi seat in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh found mention. The fact is both have not demonstrated a keenness to pick up the gauntlet thrown by Diggy Raja. BJP leaders had on more than one occasion said defeating Singh would not be a big deal and that any party worker could do that. But any attempt to ask if the BJP would field Shivraj or Uma Bharti against Digvijaya, draws a blank. All that BJP leaders said, "The decision rests with party central leadership. Rajneesh Agrawal, BJP spokesman said, "The party will declare the candidate before nominations. Defeat of Congress is certain. BJP ticket is a certificate of victory.
Congress spokesman JP Dhanopia counters it saying, "Digvijaya is a national leader. The BJP does not have a leader of that stature.
When he was asked about the issue, former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had in Bhind only a couple of days ago showed his reluctance to contest Lok Sabha election. There were times when he said it was his wish to work in home state. He, however, suffixes it by saying if the party decides to field him, he won’t even mind contesting election from Ragogarh. Incidentally, Ragogarh is home town of Digvijaya. The senior Congress leader had won four assembly elections from that seat. His son Jaivardhan Singh, now a minister in the Kamal Nath government, is an MLA from that seat.
Uma Bharti, union minister and party's national vice-president had some time back conveyed to the party leadership her wish to not contest Lok Sabha election this time. In her tweets, the senior leader said she would shoulder any responsibility that the party assigns her for election. She also made it clear she would campaign against Singh and remind people of his past actions. In her interaction with media in recent past, she said it is not necessary to field the former chief minister , and sitting MP from Bhopal Alok Sanjar can defeat Digvijaya, something that many observers are not in agreement with. They say it would not be that easy this time. In the past 30 years, the Congress could not once win the seat. Before he became the President of the country, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma was most prominent person from the Congress to win the seat. From the BJP, Uma Bharti and former chief minister Kailash Joshi were the two stalwarts who won the seat in the past.
Bharti, who rarely misses a chance to take potshots at Singh in her tweets, said, as an MP from Bhopal when she had talked of Narmada water scheme for Bhopal, Singh had made fun of it. But after becoming chief minister, it was she who got the scheme implemented and reinstated 40,000 employees, who were sacked by Singh. She described him as the one who was opposed to the progress of Bhopal.