Following the decision by the state’s main Opposition Congress to field some pretty strong contenders for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls coupled with the strong undercurrents against some of the BJP’s sitting MPs, it has now become a formidable task for the saffron party to realise its ‘Mission 29’ dream (where in it had set its sights on securing all the 29 Parliament seats in the state).
Interestingly, before both the parties had announced their respective candidates, the political circles here had forecast a decline in the Congress’ seat share from its present 12 to just four. Now, though, the Congress is expected to put up a tough fight in at least eight seats.
BJP state chief Narendra Singh Tomar, who is the sitting MP from Morena, was forced to shift to Gwalior because of the strong anti-incumbency factor. In his place, Anup Mishra, who had lost last year’s Assembly elections, has been made the party candidate. Mishra, who is the nephew of BJP stalwart and former Primer Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, will be pitted against veteran Congress leader Govind Singh,who appears to be a much stronger candidate.
Similarly, former IAS officer Bhagirath Prasad, who joined the BJP less than 24 hours after being made the Congress candidate from Bhind, is likely to face an uphill task. Prasad is facing stiff opposition from the supporters of five-time BJP MP Ashok Argal, who was asked to vacate his seat to accommodate the bureaucrat-turned-politico.Apart from Argal, the BJP has denied renomination to three more sitting MPs, including Shivraj Lodhi (Damoh), Govind Mishra (Sidhi), who has threatened to quit the party and Makhan Singh Solanki (Khargone).
Govind Singh Rajput, a former MLA and state youth Congress chief, who had lost the 2013 Assembly elections by a wafer-thin margin, which the party attributed to internal sabotage, has been made the Congress’ candidate from Sagar. Rajput is expected to give a tough fight to the BJP, which is yet to announce its candidate. In Jabaplur too, the Congress is expected to do well with former Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha being made the party’s candidate. Tankha, who enjoys a very cordial relationship with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, is also
likely to get the support of the BJP workers. It is pertinent to note here that Chouhan had recently tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to push the name of Tankha as the party’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha.
In Satna, the Congress has fielded veteran leader and former Leader of Opposition Ajay Rahul Singh. Son of former Union Minister/MP Chief Minister and Nehru-Gandhi loyalist Arjun Singh, Rahul, besides having his late father’s rich legacy on his side, will have the advantage of the strong anti-incumbency wave against BJP candidate Ganesh Singh, who is into his second back-to-back term as an MP.
Also, the grand old party is expected to give the BJP a run for its money in the traditional Congress strongholds.