Declaring its fifth list of 16 candidates for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, the Congress has fielded Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s brother-in-law Sanjay Singh Masani from Waraseoni constituency, days after the latter asserted that it is time for a change of guard in Madhya Pradesh.
Former PCC chief Arun Yadav will take on CM Chouhan from Budhni constituency. The OBC leader was sulking since he was replaced by Kamal Nath as PCC chief. The party replaced its candidates in Manpur and Ratlam (Rural) seats. Gyanwati Singh will now be the official candidate from Manpur in place of Tilak Raj Singh. In Ratlam (Rural), Thavar Lal Bhuria has replaced Laxman Singh Bindor. The party has left Jatara (SC) seat for Loktantrik Janata Dal.
Masani, brother of Chouhan’s wife Sadhna Singh, had sought a BJP ticket from Waraseoni in Balaghat district but changed his affiliation after the ruling party again chose to nominate sitting MLA Yogendra Nirmal.
“MP needs (Kamal) Nath, not Shivraj,” Masani said on Saturday after joining the Congress at the AICC headquarters in the presence of former Union ministers Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia. He had praised Nath for developing Chhindwara while accusing the BJP government of doing little to create jobs or establish industries.
However, not everyone in the Congress is happy with the decision, especially because Masani was often the Opposition party’s target on the Assembly floor for getting undue benefits and for landing government contracts for his infrastructure firm in blatant violation of rules. The Congress is now using his defection to claim that it indicates that Masani knows which way the wind is blowing.
Though the BJP treats Masani as a political non-entity, it chose its words till he became an official candidate of the Congress. “As long as he was the CM’s brother-in-law he had some standing, but not any longer,’’ Agriculture Minister and Balaghat MLA Gaurishankar Bisen said, adding that he will campaign against Masani and win.
Meanwhile, former forest minister Sartaj Singh, who had hinted at rebellion if denied a ticket from Seoni Malwa constituency, wept openly on Thursday after his name did not figure in the third list of BJP candidates for the Assembly polls and defected to the Congress.
Citing his old age and performance, the BJP had dropped enough hints that it was not keen to give a ticket to the septuagenarian, who was dropped from the Chouhan cabinet two years ago.
Over the last few days, Singh had hinted at contesting as an Independent from Seoni Malwa in Hoshangabad, saying that he would consult his supporters before taking a call and that the Congress was in touch with him. Singh, a three-time Lok Sabha MP from Hoshangabad and former minister in the Atal Bihari Cabinet in 1996, announced on Thursday afternoon that he had joined the Congress before the party listed him as its official nominee from Hoshangabad Assembly seat. He will take on Speaker Sitasaran Sharma.
Meanwhile, Congress Rajya Sabha member Satyavrat Chaturvedi Thursday expressed unhappiness over the party denying a ticket to his son Nitin, who filed his nomination from Rajnagar constituency on a Samajwadi Party ticket on Thursday. “The party told me twice that my son would get a chance in the next election. This time they did not even say this, which means they don’t need him,” he said. Chaturvedi said the Congress has not done justice to his son.