While by-elections to 24 Assembly constituencies, which will hold a key to the survival of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh, have not been announced yet, the first signs of anger in ruling BJP against rebel Congress legislators who helped topple the 15-month Congress government of Kamal Nath came with senior leader Deepak Joshi’s ‘warning’ to the party leadership.
Joshi, son of former MP Chief Minister Kailash Joshi and a minister in Chouhan’s previous Cabinet, on Wednesday told The Indian Express that he is considering exploring “options’’ if denied his due by the party he has served for decades.
Joshi had lost the 2018 polls from Hatpiplya constituency in Dewas district to Manoj Chaudhary, one of 22 Congress MLAs whose rebellion brought Chouhan back to power. The 22 MLAs had resigned and joined BJP on the condition that they will be fielded in the bypolls.
Party insiders have so far maintained that there is no option but to give tickets to the 22 former Congress legislators. “That is the precondition. A national party can’t go back on its promise,” a former state BJP chief said.
But the prospects of campaigning for “imported candidates”, who were rivals not long ago, is seen as having unnerved many BJP cadres.
“I am not saying you have to give me the ticket, but you should keep me in the team, give me responsibility that will do justice to my contribution,” Joshi said. “If you drop me from the team, I will have to explore options…”
Asked whether he will campaign for his former Congress rival, Joshi said he will, if asked by the party. Choudhary was not available for a comment.
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