BHOPAL: Eighty-seven year old Babulal Gaur is perhaps the oldest politician in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Madhya Pradesh.
However, the former chief minister who was dropped from the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet in June 2016 because of his age, is not willing to give up his Assembly seat. He says he is determined to contest the state Assembly polls for the eleventh time in 2018 from the Govindpura seat of Bhopal where he is undefeated since 1980.
The nine-time sitting MLA who won his first assembly election from Dakshin Bhopal seat in a bypoll in 1974 told the New Indian Express, he is determined to contest from Govindpura in 2018 and win that seat for the BJP again.
“I’m confident that the party will again repose faith in me in 2018, as I’ve been winning the seat with ease since 1980,” said Gaur.
The BJP has banned MLAs who are above 75 years of age from taking up minister-level positions.
“The 75-plus formula was meant for council of ministers. As far as I know, there is no age formula in the party for contesting the polls. An 80-plus man was awarded the party ticket in this year's UP Assembly polls, then why will the party deny ticket to me,” maintained Gaur.
Gaur, recounted how he was fielded as an independent candidate in 1974 at the behest of Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan. “He (Jaiprakash Narayan) gave me blessings to be a lawmaker for entire life. Since then I’ve never lost an assembly election. In 2003, our chief minister candidate Uma Bharti wanted to deny me the party ticket from Govindpura. But her plans met the disapproval of the then Prime Minsiter Atal Bihari Vajpayee and other senior party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Pramod Mahajan. I’m Atalji’s disciple and will contest the poll from Govindpura again as a BJP candidate in 2018,” said Gaur.
At a time when other leaders of the party, including Bhopal mayor Alok Sharma (considered close to MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan) and MP Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) head Tapan Bhowmick have publicly staked claim as Gaur’s successor from Govindpura, the veteran BJP politician made it clear, “there is no concept of political successor in the BJP. Political successors exist only in the Congress, spanning from Motilal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi.”
With Gaur’s daughter-in-law and former Bhopal mayor Krishna Gaur also said to be in the race for BJP candidature from Govindpura in 2018, the former CM said “those leaders dubbing themselves as my political successor are committed party workers who have played crucial role in previous polls. But I don’t have any political successor. Even my daughter-in-law can at best inherit my property only,” said Gaur.
The octogenarian who has embarrassed his own government by raising questions on various issues in the state assembly after being dropped from state cabinet in June 2016 said he will again perform his jan-dharma (duty as lawmaker) in the monsoon session of assembly starting on Monday.
“I’m an MLA and hence, will raise questions pertaining to development, be it on delay in metro railway project in Bhopal or Indore or the smart city projects in the state. I don’t intend to embarrass the government, but can't shun my responsibility of taking up issues of development in the assembly,” said Gaur.