Cong queers pitch for BJP CMs in MP, R'sthan, C'garh

Cong queers pitch for BJP CMs in MP, R'sthan, C'garh

Manvendra Singh with Congress President Rahul Gandhi. PTI Photo

That is to put pressure on the opposing party's chief campaigners of these states - the respective Chief Ministers - to ensure that they are forced to spend more time on winning their own seats. Besides, making the contest in chief ministerial constituencies high profile also sends out a message that Congress is ready to take head on even the strongest ruling party face in a state.

In two of these high profile constituencies, Congress has banked on leaders with BJP background to challenge their chief ministers. While Singh, a former BJP MLA from Sheo, quit the saffron party just two months ago in September this year, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla, who has been pitted against Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh from the latter's home turf Rajnandgaon, had quit the BJP in 2014 after spending over 30 years in the party.

Both Rajasthan CM Raje and Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh have been winning their seats - Jhalrapatan and Rajnandgaon - for last three terms.

Manvendra and his father Jaswant Singh had been upset with the BJP after the latter's wish to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Barmer was turned down by the party. A sulking Jaswant Singh had then contested as an independent and lost to the BJP candidate. For last four years, Jaswant Singh has been in a coma after he had a fall and suffered a head injury.

Manvendra, who quit the BJP saying, "Kamal Ka Phool, Hamaari Bhool", was tipped to contest 2019 Lok Sabha polls from his father's seat Barmer. But Congress thought it prudent to utilise him against Raje in the state poll as well, seeking to make the contest a bit more tough for the Rajasthan Chief Minister.

Shukla had been taking on the BJP for quite some time and most recently she accused the BJP of having forgotten Vajpayee and trying to market his legacy after the saffron party decided to hold a Kalash yatra across the nation and in Chhattisgarh in memory of the departed former Prime Minister.

Before joining Congress, Shukla headed BJP's Mahila Morcha or women's wing and was an MP from Janjgir Lok Sabha seat.

Confidence Chouhan

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress chose to field its former state chief Arun Yadav, son of party veteran and former Deputy Chief Minister Subhash Yadav, against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from Budhni assembly seat in Sehore. The seat has been represented by Chouhan since 1990. Yadav, who was an MP from Khandwa between 2007 and 2014, is an OBC face but Chouhan has said he will not campaign in Budhni, which reflects his confidence.

"The idea was to ensure that BJP's chief ministerial candidates do not have a cakewalk even in their strongholds. If our candidates are strong, the chief ministers will have to stay focused on their seats somewhat. After all, BJP is in a bad shape in Rajasthan and there is strong anti-incumbency in Chhattisgarh. Let the Captains first save their ships," said a Congress functionary.