Vajpayee's nephew might join Congress

Atal Bihari Vajpayee. PTI file photo

Angry over denial of BJP ticket from the Morena seat, late Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s nephew Anoop Mishra might defect to the Congress.

His cousin sister and former BJP MLA Karuna Shukla had joined the Congress in October 2013, a month after Narendra Modi was anointed BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

In November 2018, the Congress pitted her against Raman Singh, former chief minister of Chhattisgarh. She lost to Singh by 17,000 votes.

Although Anoop has kept mum over prospects of his defection, Congress sources indicated that “some senior BJP leaders are in touch with Chief Minister Kamal Nath.”  Speculation is rife that another BJP leader, Ashok Argal, too might defect to the Congress. Five-time BJP Lok Sabha member, Argal is stung over the denial of ticket from Bhind seat.       

Mishra, a minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet, had lost Assembly election last year. He had been voicing disenchantment against the top BJP leadership for quite some time. He was elected from Morena in 2014, but this time the party fielded Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar from the constituency.

On the possibility of his joining the Congress, Argal cryptically remarked, “Whatever action I take, only time will tell.”

Argal was elected to Parliament from Morena in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004. Following delimitation, Bhind became an SC reserved seat and Argal was moved from Morena. He won Bhind in 2009 and went to the Lok Sabha for a fifth consecutive term.

Retired IAS officer Bhagirath Prasad, who switched from the Congress to the BJP in 2014 to win the Bhind Lok Sabha seat, was seeking a ticket this time but was passed over for Sandhya Rai.

The BJP leadership is reaching out to disgruntled leaders to thwart poaching attempts by Congress. National vice-president Ramlal and state in-charge Vinay Sahasrabuddhe are trying hard to quell the rebellion and prevent a rerun of 2018 when dissent cost it dearly in the Assembly polls.

The BJP is battling dissent in seven of the 15 seats where candidates were announced on March 23. Party leaders in Shahdol, Mandsaur, Bhind and Tikamgarh are angry that “non-performers” were chosen over strong local candidates.

Senior party leaders, however, maintain that resentment after ticket distribution is normal.

 “In the end, all leaders will unite to help the party emerge victorious with a thumping majority,” BJP national vice-president Prabhat Jha said. 

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