Versatile veterans keep BJP Cong on toes in MP

BJP might have come out with a ‘Mardarshak Mandal’ to park its veterans at Centre in non-executive roles and Congress might have sent its seniors packing from AICC but when it comes to states, veterans in both are parties are not willing to take it lying down.

In the high- stake star-studded poll battle in Madhya Pradesh, it the versatile veterans that have kept both the main parties--- the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress on toes. The scale of rebellion in the ruling BJP is, however, is higher. This even as the ruling party retained nearly 80 percent of its sitting MLAs.

If the 88-year-old former Chief Minister Babulal Gaur forced his party BJP to field his daughter in-law from his home turf Govindpur, 78-year-old Sartaj Singh quit BJP on being denied ticket and is contesting against it on Congress ticket. So is 76-year-old Ram Krishna Kusmari, five term MP rebelled against BJP not fielding him this time and is contesting on two seats as independent.

BJP elders like Kusmaria are evoking the image of party patriarch L K Advani to hammer home the point that elders are not getting due respect in the party.

In Congress, the classic cases is the expulsion of senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi (68) on Monday days after his virtual rebellion after his son Nitin Chaturvedi was denied a ticket. Nitin is now contesting on the ticket of Samajwadi Party from a seat in Rajnagar and his father, a veteran Brhamin leader from Bundelkhand is campaigning for him. Nitin alias Banti was expelled before his father faced expulsion this week.

Chaturvedi is not the lone case in Congress. Facing rebellion in odd a dozen seats, It had to expel its sitting MLA from Jhabua, Xavier Meda, for six years for anti-party activities. Unimpressed, he is contesting from Jhabua as an Independent candidate against Vikrant Bhuria, son of former Union Minister Kantilal Bhuria.

Satyavrat Chaturvedi, who has been three term MP and MLA for equal numbers is unfazed. “ I have got neither any notice from the party nor any intimation regarding. I am busy in election campaign,” Chaturvedi told Deccan Herald when asked about the action. Earlier he had dared the Congress leadership to fire him

Former MP Chief Minister and senior party leader Digvijay Singh, however, felt that Chaturvedi should not have fielded his son from Samajwadi Party ticket. Digvijay, who is in charge of coordination was able to rein in many cases, though.

In BJP the woe is endless.

In Hoshangabad, BJP’s veteran Sartaj Sigh, who was Union Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and had earned for himself the sobriquet of ‘giant killer” after defeating Congress stalwart late Arjun Singh in 1998 Lok Sabha election, deserted the saffron party this time after he was not given a ticket from his sitting constituency Seoni Malwa in Hoshangabad district on account of his crossing the upper age limit. Rebelling against the party decision, Sartaj is contesting from adjoining Hoshangabad assembly seat on Congress ticket against BJP nominee Sitarsharan Sharma, who is the Speaker of the state Assembly.

Singh, a former MP has strong goodwill in the entire Hoshangabad district and is making the contest tough for the BJP’s sitting MLA. Many of the BJP workers associated with Sartaj Singh for long are now working for him. However, the victory margin of BJP’s Sharma in last election was over 49 thousand votes, which is a silver lining for the later apart from the constituency having sizeable Brahmin votes.

Singh, who was PWD minister in Shivraj Singh Chouhan government was dropped from the Cabinet in June 2016 along with state Home minister and former Chief Minister Babulal Gaur in June 2016. Gaur, who has been representing Govindpur seat for decades made sure that his daughter in-law Krishna Gaur gets his assembly seat. BJP obliged at the last minute as Gour threatened to singe party prospects in Govindpur and adjoining assembly segments. 

Five term BJP MP Ram Krishna Kusmaria, who lost the 2013 assembly poll and was denied a ticket this time is now contesting as independent from two seats- Patheria and Damoh. In Damoh his candidature can pose a tough challenge to BJP’s state finance minister Jayant Malaiyya, a septuagenarian veteran.

Kusmaria is one of the 53 BJP rebels expelled by the party along with two other ministers Sartaj Singh and KL Agrawal, former Gwalior mayor Sameeksha Gupta and sitting MLAs Rajkumar Mev and Narendra Singh Kushwaha.

 Madhya Pradesh goes to polls on November 28.

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Versatile veterans keep BJP Cong on toes in MP

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