Bhopal: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have released the first two lists of their candidates for the upcoming assembly polls on November 28.
BJP released a list of 177 candidates on November 2, while Congress announced 171 candidates on the following day. The state has a total of 230 assembly seats.
Justifying anti-incumbency against the legislatures, the BJP have dropped 34 sitting MLAs’ names including three ministers- Urban Development Minister Maya Singh, Forest Minister Gauri Shankar Shejwar and Jail Minister Kusum Mehdele.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will contest from the Budhni constituency in Sehore district, which he has been representing since 2005. Along with Chouhan, top leaders like Narottam Mishra, Yashodhara Raje Scindia and others are also on the first list of candidates.
Of the 177 seats declared in the first list, 16 women candidates have been given tickets. The party has also repeated 22 MLAs who had lost in the 2013 elections.
The list brought joy to many candidates, but, it also raised the voices of dissent within the BJP. Several disappointed leaders are either planning to switch to Congress or create ruckus at the party office or outside the Chief Minister’s house with their supporters to protest against his candidature.
In a big blow to BJP, Chief Minister Chouhan’s brother-in-law Sanjay Singh joined the Congress on Saturday in Delhi and lambasted the Chouhan government on a slew of issues.
Moreover, former Chief Minister and the eldest BJP leader of the state, Babulal Gaur has also registered his disappointment before the party leadership for holding his seat – Govindpura, which he had been representing for four decades.
According to sources, Gaur talked to Chouhan and threatened to file the nomination on Tuesday as an independent candidate from the Govindpura seat, if the party did not announce his name in the next 24 hours.
Additionally, Dhruv Narayan Singh, a former MLA from Bhopal (Madhya) constituency; Vel Singh Bhuriya, sitting MLA from Sardarpur constituency of Dhar district; and former minister Kusum Mehdele met with the senior party leaders and protested at the party office and near the Chief Minister’s house, along with hundreds of supporters over a denial of ticket.
The rebellion within BJP is increasing with each passing day, even though the party is yet to declare the remaining 53 seats. As a result of the protests, the security at the Chief Minister’s house and BJP head office have been beefed up.
Amid this rebellion, the BJP announced the second list of its candidates on November 5 with former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s nephew being fielded from the Bhitarwar constituency. There are 17 names in the second list.
Springing no major surprises, the opposition Congress retained all but three of its incumbent MLAs and fielded four outsiders in the first list, including the national convener of a fledgling tribal outfit JAYS (Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti), Hiralal Alawa.
The party has fielded two Muslim candidates – Arif Aqueel, the only Muslim MLA in MP, will contest from Bhopal (North), the constituency which he has represented five times, while former NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) MLA Hamid Kazi will contest from Burhanpur. As far as women’s representation is considered, the party has given tickets to 22 women candidates.
The sitting Congress MLA from Karera constituency, Shakuntala Khatik, who had reportedly asked supporters to set a police station on fire following a heated argument with some policemen, is among the three MLAs who have been denied ticket this time.
In the second list of candidates released on November 4, Congress announced 16 names which included five sitting MLAs along with several new faces. In the Shivpuri constituency against former MP Yashodharaje Scindia, the party nominated a fresh face, Sidhharth Lada.
According to the experts, the Congress list is more balanced than any other party contesting the election in MP and shows that Congress is attempting to take all sections of the society on board.
Speaking with Newsclick, state Congress media cell in-charge Shobha Oza said there are 22 women in the first list and 55 fresh faces including youths.
Reacting to the list of Congress, BJP Media in charge Lokendra Prashar said there is nothing to be excited with the Congress list. “Nepotism and favoritism is clearly reflected in the list and voters will teach them a lesson on November 28,” he said.
Senior journalist and political expert NK Singh said, “The BJP was looking stronger before the announcement of first list, and many of us were expecting new faces but with the party dropping only 34 names, the picture is now looking grim.”
The BJP has been in power since 2003 in the state and Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been the chief minister from November 2005.
With the last date of filing nominations being November 9, the parties are expected to declare the rest of their candidates in the next two to three days.
The state is going for polls on November 28 and the counting of votes will take place on December 11, 2018.