BHOPAL: Known for making statements that often cause embarrassment for his party, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and BJP veteran Babulal Gaur has dropped a bombshell by claiming that another ex-MP CM Digvijaya Singh has offered him to contest from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat on a Congress ticket.
“Yes it’s true that the offer has been made to me recently by none other but Digvijaya Singh with whom I’ve old political ties. I’ve told him that I would think about it,” said the 88-year-old BJP veteran, who besides serving as the MP CM in 2004-05, has also held important portfolios like home and urban housing and development in the erstwhile Uma Bharti and Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP governments.
Importantly, just a few days after the Congress government came to power in the state last month after 15 years, the senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had lunch at Gaur’s residence in Bhopal. According to sources close to Gaur, the offer to contest as Congress candidate from Bhopal in next general elections was made by Singh there only.
While the Congress state media in-charge Shobha Oza declined comment on Gaur’s claims, former MP minister and senior BJP leader Umashankar Gupta said, “It’s nothing but a decline of the Congress party. They brought in Priyanka Gandhi as Rahul Gandi flopped, and they are now offering tickets to BJP leaders as they don’t have candidates of their own.”
However, Gaur’s old ministerial colleague and ex-union minister Sartaj Singh (ex-Lok Sabha member from Hoshangabad seat of MP), who quit the BJP ahead of recent assembly polls to unsuccessfully contest as Congress candidate from Hoshangabad assembly seat, said, “if the offer has been made to Gaur, he should accept it.”
It’s not the first-time, Gaur has made controversial comments, as in the past after being dropped from the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet in June 2016 over old age, Gaur had embarrassed the BJP government by raising questions in Vidhan Sabha about delay in metro rail projects in Indore and Bhopal and problem of malnutrition in the state.
He was also in news for praising CM Kamal Nath for his commitment to development agenda and had congratulated Congress veteran Arif Aqeel, much in advance about becoming a cabinet minister in the Congress government, few days before declaration of assembly polls results in December 2018.
Gaur, the nine-time former BJP MLA from Govindpura seat of Bhopal was denied ticket by the BJP in the assembly polls. In his place, the saffron party fielded his ex-Bhopal mayor daughter-in-law Krishna Gaur, who defeated Congress candidate Girish Sharma by over 36,000 votes, thus ensuring that the assembly seat seen as Gaur family’s pocket-borough remains with the BJP and her family.
Govindpura is among the eight assembly seats of Bhopal and Sehore district, which form the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat. In the previous Lok Sabha polls, the BJP which has been winning the Bhopal parliamentary seat since 1989 has taken decisive lead from Govindpura assembly seat only. Govindpura is the largest assembly segment of the Bhopal LS seat.
On the other hand, the Congress hasn’t won the Bhopal LS seat since 1984, when its nominee KN Pradhan retained the seat won by party candidate Shankar Dayal Sharma in 1980. Twelve years later Sharma became the ninth President of India.
For the BJP, the seat has been won since 1989, four times by Sushil Chandra Verma, ex-CM Uma Bharti (1999) and another ex-CM Kailash Joshi twice in 2004 and 2009. Presently, BJP’s Alok Sanjar is the MP from the same seat.
While the BJP is not likely to repeat Sanjar in the coming general elections, several names have been doing rounds of Congress circles in the state capital. A group of party workers led by municipal councilor Guddu Chouhan recently demanded that Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan (whose father in law, the ex-India cricket captain Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi lost to BJP’s Sushil Chandra Verma in 1991 by over one lakh votes) be fielded from the seat.
Subsequently, posters bearing demand for fielding Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the Congress candidate were seen in some parts of the MP capital.
Also, a section of Congress workers recently held a meeting in Bhopal, where they demanded that ex-PM Late Lal Bahadur Shastri’s former union minister son Anil Shastri be fielded from the seat, as the seat houses a sizeable number of Kayastha voters.