With L K Advani having been ruled out or ruled himself out of Bhopal, BJP leaders in Madhya Pradesh are faced with an unpleasant fallout. Ticket-seekers who were ready to sacrifice their claims for the “senior leader from outside” have not been able to reconcile themselves to the local candidate who was eventually chosen — Alok Sanjar.
Former chief minister Babulal Gaur lost his cool Monday in the presence of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, saying none of the MLAs whose constituencies make the Bhopal parliamentary seat was consulted. The outburst came when the core group of leaders met Monday to fine-tune campaigning for Alok Sanjar,
“I told him (Chouhan) not to repeat it next time,” Gaur told The Indian Express about his conversation with the CM. Chouhan reportedly tried to placate Gaur saying it was too late to do anything now.
“Things were different when leaders such as Sunderlal Patwa and Kushabhai Thakre were at the helm of affairs. They would at least consult MLAs though the decision they took was final,” Home Minister Gaur said. The octogenarian had been plugging his daughter-in-law and Bhopal mayor Krishna Gaur.
Bhopal district unit president Alok Sharma, who was considered a favourite because of his closeness to Chouhan, could not make it either and has expressed his disappointment in no uncertain terms. He denied speculation, however, that he is quitting the party.
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Another former chief minister, sitting MP Kailash Joshi, who vacated the seat in anticipation of Advani’s candidature, has expressed his disapproval. Joshi, who is younger to Advani by a couple of years, reportedly threw his hat back in the ring after it became certain that the former deputy prime minister would settle for Gandhinagar.
Sanjar, a former municipal councilor who was given the charge of state headquarters, has spent his time meeting local leaders to placate them. Though they have nothing personally against the low-profile candidate, to them he symbolises a choice thrust on them. Incidentally, it was precisely this reason why the party chose Sanjar as its candidate because there were too many contenders who disliked one another.
The BJP’s only Muslim candidate in the assembly elections, Arif Baig, had accused Sharma of sabotaging his prospects in Bhopal (North). Many people, including a few legislators, were against Krishna Gaur’s candidature. When it became clear that Advani would not come to Bhopal they pleaded that Kailash Joshi contest.
Another senior leader, Raghunandan Sharma has slammed the party for ignoring his claim on Mandsaur. “There’s a sense of mourning among workers,” the former Rajya Sabha MP said on the party’s decision to field Sudhir Gupta, whose name was not in circulation.
“I never asked anything from the party for myself before. This was the first time I showed a willingness to contest from Mandsaur. I even told them to alert me in advance if I was not going to be given the ticket to allow me to withdraw with honour,’’ said Sharma. He claimed he was personally assured by Rajnath Singh and state chief Narendra Tomar that his candidature was certain.