Days after Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath asked Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh to choose a tough seat to enter the Lok Sabha election fray, the latter Monday said he was ready to contest from wherever party chief Rahul Gandhi wants him to. Singh also said that accepting challenges was his habit. Rumours are around in political circles that Singh might be fielded from either Bhopal or Indore Lok Sabha constituency, which are the traditional strongholds of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Alok Sanjar are sitting MPs from Indore and Bhopal, respectively. Speculations on the likely candidature of Singh, a former chief minister, got strengthened when Kamal Nath told reporters recently that he had requested Singh to contest from one of the toughest seats, if the latter wants to enter the poll ring.
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“There are 2-3 seats in the state from where we have not won for the last 25-30 years,” Nath had said in an apparent reference to Indore and Bhopal seats. The Congress had last won Bhopal constituency in 1984, after assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The seat was the represented by Congress’ K N Pradhan.
Similarly, the Congress last won Indore in 1984, when Prakash Chandra Sethi defeated his opponents. Responding to Nath’s request, Singh in a tweet Monday said: “With the blessings of people of Raghogarh (erstwhile princely state), I have won in 1977 (assembly polls) also during the Janata Party wave.
Accepting challenges is my habit. From any place my leader, Rahul Gandhi will ask me, I am ready to contest Lok Sabha polls. Narmade Har”. “Thank you Kaman Nath ji for inviting me to contest from weak seats of Congress. He considered me capable for this and I am thankful to him,” Singh said in another tweet.
Polls for total 29 Lok Sabha seats in Madhya Pradesh will be held in four phases during April 29–May 19 period. Madhya Pradesh Congress said it was incumbent upon senior leaders to contest from tough seats since the party wanted to win maximum number of seats in upcoming elections.
“As the party wishes to win maximum number of seats in the state in Lok Sabha polls, senior leaders must contest from the tough seats the Congress had not won for long,” state Congress media department chairperson Shobha Oza told PTI. She said the entry of senior Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh into poll fray from difficult terrain, would also boost morale of party workers. In 2014 Parliamentary elections, the BJP won 27 seats in Madhya Pradesh while the Congress’ tally was just two.
Normally, Singh and his family members have contested Lok Sabha elections from their traditional Rajgarh seat. Singh had represented Rajgarh in 1984 and 1991. His brother Laxman Singh had represented the seat in 1994 (bypoll), 1996, 1998, and 1999 from Congress, and in 2004 from BJP.
In 2009, Digvijaya Singh loyalist Narayan Singh Amlabe won from Rajgarh. Singh’s choice of seat is hotly debated in the faction-ridden Congress. While a section of leaders want him to contest from Rajgarh, a “safe” seat, the gauntlet to enter the poll fray from either Indore or Bhopal is also thrown at him at the behest of another faction. Singh had completed his schooling and BE from Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh.