Sitting MP from Bhopal Kailash Joshi, who had earlier “vacated” the seat for party patriarch L K Advani, has now thrown his hat into the ring and has staked claim for the seat.
Joshi, who was the first senior leader to invite Advani to contest from Bhopal, met his supporters at his official residence on Thursday. According to sources, he was asked by his supporters to reclaim the Bhopal seat.
Party leaders confirmed that soon after the announcement of Advani’s candidature from Gandhinagar was made, Joshi spoke to state BJP president Narendra Singh Tomar and expressed his willingness to contest from Bhopal. “Joshi only vacated his seat so that Advani could fight from here. Now when the party has decided that Advani will contest from Gandhinagar, there is no point in Joshi being replaced. We have requested him to contest from Bhopal,” a party MLA told ‘Express’.
Joshi’s invite to Advani was seen as a move to to stop the other two claimants - Alok Sharma and Krishna Gaur- from being fielded from Bhopal. “Both Alok Sharma and Krishna Gaur are in the anti-Joshi group and hence Joshi is trying
his best to make sure that none of them is fielded from the prestigious Bhopal seat,” a party source said.
While Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is pushing for the candidature of Alok Sharma, who is the Bhopal district president of the BJP, Home Minister and former CM Babu Lal Gaur is lobbying for a ticket for his daughter-in-law Krishna Gaur, who is the mayor of Bhopal. ‘Express’ on March 4 had reported that not Advani, but the 46-year-old Alok Sharma is likely to be the BJP’s candidate from Bhopal.
Joshi told ‘Express’ that he would go by whatever the party decides. “The supporters may want a ticket for me, but ultimately it is the decision of the party that who should contest. If the party asks me, I will contest,” Joshi said. However, supporters of Joshi are in no mood for a replacement candidate apart from Advani. “Ultimately the final decision is with the party, but we have already expressed our reservations against the move to field anyone else apart from Joshi or Advani,” the MLA said.