Low-profile, yet tough contest expected in Bhopal city

Low-profile, yet tough contest expected in Bhopal city

It is a battle of minnows in this Lok Sabha constituency which was once represented by Congress stalwart Shankar Dayal Sharma and more recently by the BJP’s Uma Bharti and Kailash Joshi.

This time the BJP has fielded its state unit chief and former corporator Alok Sanjar against P C Sharma, a former Congress MLA. Sheeba Malik is the Samajwadi Party candidate. Also in the fray is the Aam Aadmi Party that has fielded social activist Rachana Dhingra.

Interestingly, both the BJP and the Congress are dealing with internal trouble over fielding light-weights in the state capital. For both parties this election is a prestige issue, but the BJP appears to have a clear edge given its strong organisational presence in the state.

While Sharma's candidature led to some heartburn in the Congress, Sanjar's nomination had its own share of drama. Sitting BJP MP and former chief minister Kailash Joshi had proposed L K Advani's name from Bhopal. When Advani was forced to stick to Gandhinagar in Gujarat, senior BJP leader Babulal Gaur was keen that the party field his daughter and Bhopal’s mayor Krishna Gaur from here. Sanjar was selected because he was apparently the least controversial candidate in the BJP.

“I had not even dreamt of being the BJP candidate for Lok Sabha elections. My selection demonstrates that the BJP cares for a common worker,” said Sanjar to Deccan Herald.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP said the Bhopal seat is key to upholding the pride of party workers.

“It is important for BJP workers from Bhopal to ensure a massive victory for Sanjar because an ordinary party worker is contesting,” he tells a meeting of BJP activists.

Chouhan does  not forget to mention BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. “Narendra Modi will become the prime minister only when Alok Sanjar will get elected from Bhopal,” he said.

However, the Gaur family was conspicuous by their absence at the party meeting. The RSS is learnt to have stepped in to iron out the differences and bring sulking leaders on board.

Faced with the BJP's feverish campaign, Sharma too is pulling out all stops to give Sanjar a tough fight. Sharma, who is considered close to senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, has been active in Bhopal’s politics for almost three decades.

He has been the Chairman of the Bhopal Development Authority when Singh was the Chief Minister. But the last time Sharma won an election was 15 years ago when he was elected as a MLA from here.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox