Days after the Congress faced embarrassment in Madhya Pradesh after a leader quit to join BJP after he was named the Congress candidate, the party is staring at another rebellion with its only Muslim MLA in the state going public against the decision to field P C Sharma from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency and calling the party leadership “untrained.’’
Arif Aqueel has reportedly threatened to quit the party. Last week, Bhagirath Prasad joined the BJP a day after he was officially named the Congress’s Bhind candidate.
“Those who inherited their position are ill-trained,’’ Aqueel said without clarifying whether he was targeting the national or the state leadership but said the ticket for Bhopal should have been given to a minority candidate. He accused the leadership of being partial to Brahmins.
He denied he was in the Lok Sabha race and admitted to having written to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and party state unit chief Arun Yadav about fielding a minority candidate in Bhopal where the minority population, including Jains, is close to six lakh.
Aqueel is the only Congress candidate who won the last assembly election in Bhopal district, where all other assembly segments were won by the BJP. The BJP, the ruling party in MP, had fielded a minority candidate but Aqueel won for the fifth consecutive term.
“Sharma did not help any candidate in the assembly elections,’’ Aqueel told The Indian Express explaining why he was angry with the Bhopal candidate. Sharma, incidentally, wanted a ticket in the assembly elections but did not succeed.
Former leader of Opposition Ajay Singh has came out in support of Aqueel saying if a minority candidate had to be fielded anywhere in Madhya Pradesh, the place had to be Bhopal. Singh, the Congress MLA from Churhat, was a contender for Seedhi Lok Sabha seat but the party did not consider his claim. He said he was not interested in contesting from anywhere else.