With the tenure of three Rajya Sabha members from Madhya Pradesh ending on April 9, a campaign on behalf of, and against, the hopefuls in ruling Congress and opposition BJP has begun.
Speculation and whisper campaign about who will succeed former chief minister and senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, and BJP leaders Prabhat Jha and Satyanarayan Jatia, are doing the rounds of both party headquarters.
For the first time in 16 years, Rajya Sabha polls will be held in the state with BJP in Opposition. Given the current arithmetic, the Congress is set to win two of three seats, with one likely for BJP.
It will take 58 first-preference votes to win. In the 230-member Assembly, there are two vacancies caused by death of two MLAs. The Congress’s current strength is 114 and BJP has 107 MLAs. The Kamal Nath government enjoys support of four Independents, one Samajwadi Party MLA and two BSP members.
In the backdrop of the sabre-rattling between Chief Minister Nath and former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, PWD Minister Sajjan Singh Varma, seen as close to Nath, set the cat among the pigeons by suddenly making a pitch for Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to be sent to the Upper House from MP.
A vocal opponent of Digivjaya Singh, Varma had opened a front against the senior leader when he had filed his Rajya Sabha nomination in 2014. His latest move puts both Scindia, who is hoping for a Rajya Sabha berth, and Singh, who hopes to continue, in awkward position. Immediately after he suggested Priyanka’s name, many other party leaders, including former state Congress chief Arun Yadav, backed the proposal.
Should the party heed to the clamour for Priyanka, the others will have to fight for the sole seat.
Scindia has not only found it difficult to reconcile to his loss from Guna-Shivpuri in last summer’s Lok Sabha elections but is also getting increasingly cagey because the party so far has not considered his claim as state unit chief, a post currently held by Nath himself.
Amid constant speculation over Scindia turning a rebel and switching loyalty, a BJP insider said the saffron party could even try to entice the former Union minister with a Rajya Sabha ticket.
Even BJP is saddled with a dilemma about the solitary berth it is assured of. Although Prabhat Jha has been nominated to the Upper House twice, he has again thrown his hat in the ring.
Speculation is rife over nomination of former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the event he is included in the Union ministry. Chouhan has on multiple occasions in the past expressed unwillingness about a role in Centre and asserted that he is more comfortable in state politics.
Senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya’s is another name doing the rounds in BJP circles.
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