Shivraj Singh Chouhan vs Digvijaya Singh? Buzz over high-stakes battle between two former CMs in Bhopal

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Updated: March 25, 2019 2:26:11 PM

The BJP is mulling over naming former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat. The Congress has given ticket to Digivijaya Singh from here.

Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, Shivraj vs DigvijayaBJP is likely to field Shivraj Singh againsr Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may field a heavyweight from the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat after the Congress decided to field former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh from the seat for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections 2019. The Madhya Pradesh capital has been a BJP citadel for 30 years now. The last Congress leader to have won the Bhopal seat was KN Pradhan in 1984. The decision to field Digvijaya Singh from this tough seat has also exposed the factional war within the Congress, particularly the one between Singh and newly appointed CM Kamal Nath.

According to several media reports, the saffron party is mulling over naming former Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its candidate from the state capital. The deliberation over fielding its topmost leader from the state is being seen as a strategy to counter the Congress move. Digvijaya Singh, a former CM himself, is a heavyweight from MP.

Moreover, the arithmetic also seems to be on the BJP’s mind. Of around 19 lakh voters in Bhopal, 4.5 lakh are Muslims, who have formed the traditional vote base of the Congress. Moreover, the defeat it suffered at the hands of Congress after 15 years also appears to be guiding the BJP’s poll math. In the current Vidhan Sabha, the Congress holds three of the eight assembly seats that come under the Bhopal constituency.

While the BJP has announced 15 candidates out of 29 parliamentary seats for Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has named 10 candidates. Apart from Digvijaya, the list includes three women — Meenakshi Natarajan (Mandsaur), Kavita Singh (Khajuraho) and Parimal Singh (Shahdol).

The Bhopal seat is currently being represented by BJP’s Alok Sanjar. It is almost certain that the saffron party will not renominate Sanjar from here. The BJP has won every national election from Bhopal since 1989. But Digvijaya’s entry into the race has managed to create a flutter.

Earlier, the BJP was considering fielding senior RSS worker Vishnu Dutt Sharma from Bhopal but protests from its senior leaders like Babulal Gaur and Umashakar Gupta forced the party to defer its decision. Reports even said that the RSS was mulling over the name of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur who was recently acquitted of charges in the Malegaon blasts.

BJP’s national general secretary and MLA Kailash Vijayvargiya has also offered to contest against Digvijaya.

Reports say that Shivraj was initially considered for Vidisha Lok Sabha seat but he may be now pitted against Digvijaya from Bhopal. The Vidisha seat is currently being represented by Sushma Swaraj who has opted out of the electoral race citing her poor health.

If the BJP decides to name Shivraj as its candidate from Bhopal, the contest is bound to be interesting as Digvijaya had also served as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for 10 years between 1993 and 2003. Although the seat is not one Digvijaya would have desired, CM Nath’s assertion that his stature demanded that Singh prove his mettle on a tough seat has forced his hand.

The BJP has so far released the list of 15 candidates for Madhya Pradesh. The BJP has dropped its five incumbent MPs and shifted union minister Narendra Singh Tomar from Gwalior to Morena seat. The BJP has not declared its candidate for Gwalior seat in anticipation of Congress fielding Jyotiraditya Scindia. Scindia is an outgoing MP Guna Lok Sabha seat and is likely to seek election from his family bastion of Gwalior. However, BJP’s Yashodhara Raje Scindia had won from here in 2007 bypoll and 2009 Lok Sabha election. Barring 1996 to 1998, the Gwalior seat was represented by Jyotiraditya’s father Jivajirao Scindia between 1984 and 1999.

Madhya Pradesh will go to polls in four phases on April 29, May 6, May and May 19. Results will be out on May 23. During the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had won 27 seats. The Congress had won two seats – Chhindwada (Kamal Nath, now CM of Madhya Pradesh) and Guna.

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