Ajay Singh fights to redeem father's legacy in Satna

Desertions triggered by the BJP in the opposition ranks has queered the pitch for Congress candidate Ajay Singh, who is keen to redeem his father and former chief minister Arjun Singh's legacy in Satna in eastern Madhya Pradesh.

On Tuesday, Narayan Tripathi, a sitting Congress legislator from Maihar Assembly seat, defected to the BJP accusing Singh of ignoring and ill-treating him. The Satna constituency, which goes to poll on Thursday, has always seen a fight between Thakurs and Brahmins. Till now, Congress leaders were hoping for a easy run for Ajay Singh, who was the Congress Legislature Party leader.

With Tripathi ditching the Congress, the BJP camp is in an upbeat mood as they expect the Brahmins to follow their leader and vote for them.

"Tripathi's joining the BJP would be a boost for us in Satna, a seat  we have been winning since 1998," Deepak Vijaywargiya, a senior leader in the Madhya Pradesh BJP told Deccan Herald.

Senior Congress leaders claim that the tussle between AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh and Ajay Singh for supremacy over the Thakur community was instrumental in the latter being fielded from Satna and not Sidhi. The Sidhi Parliamentary constituency is considered as a stronghold of Arjun Singh’s family.

“All this claims of unity in the Congress are just claims. There is no unity on the ground,” a member of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee told Deccan Herald.

The internal divisions in the state Congress was one of the reasons cited by Rahul Gandhi as the key reason for the party’s dismal performance in the Assembly elections held in December.

The Congress was reduced to 58 seats after the Assembly elections, seven seats less than their previous tally. Adding to the Congress woes were the series of defections by party MLAs. In the past two weeks, three sitting MLAs of the Congress have joined the BJP.

In Satna, the BJP has fielded Ganesh Singh, who has won the seat in 2004 and 2009. Congress stalwart and the “Thakur of Satna” Arjun Singh had won the seat in 1991 but had to taste defeat at the hands of BSP candidate Sukhlal Kushwaha in 1996.  

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