Sushma shock for BJP in poll-bound MP

Sushma shock for BJP in poll-bound MP

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses the media, in Indore, on Tuesday. Sushma said she won't contest next Lok Sabha poll due to health reasons. PTI

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s announcement in Indore not to contest the next Lok Sabha election could not have come at a worse time for an embattled BJP in Madhya Pradesh.

The announcement sent a shock wave in the BJP because Sushma is not only the two-time Lok Sabha member from Vidisha but is also considered a major source of strength for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. She solidly stood by Chouhan after the chief minister’s clouts in the party high command weakened with the dawn of Modi-Shah era in 2014.

Both Sushma and Chouhan were known as sidelined BJP patriarch LK Advani’s protégé. As such, they had a hard time dispelling suspicions about their loyalty to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While Sushma chose to keep a low profile under the Modi government, a shrewd Chouhan pulled out all stops to curry favour with the Modi-Shah duo. Chouhan has often fawningly dubbed Modi as god’s gift to the people of India.    

In the 2013 Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh, Sushma was a strong pillar in the BJP’s campaign. She extensively canvassed votes for BJP candidates across the state, particularly in Chouhan’s Budni constituency. She had also developed great chemistry with chief minister’s wife Sadhna Singh.  

In contrast, this time she entered the poll arena rather late.  Her first election meeting in the state was in Jabalpur on Monday and second in Indore on Tuesday.

Speculations were rife for the last couple of years that she might decline to contest next election from Vidisha, the constituency she is accused of ignoring all through her four-and-a-half year of the second innings. After her victory in 2009, the BJP veteran used to frequently visit not only her constituency but also other parts of the state as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

In the second term, however, she hardly came to Vidisha, prompting some people to put up posters of “missing MP’ in the constituency.

The BJP is said to be apprehensive that anger against the Lok Sabha member of Vidisha might hit the party’s prospects in the Assembly segments of the Lok Sabha constituency too.  

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