BHOPAL: As the candidates for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections are being declared, resentment is brewing among the established politicians of the BJP and Congress in the Vindhya region and is threatening to become a major headache for both.
Disappointed after being denied tickets, the leaders from both sides are readying to jolt their parties at the last moment.
Senior BJP leader and four-time MLA from Sidhi, Kedarnath Shukla, who was denied ticket this time, has announced to take a rebellious step and will contest the election against the party’s candidate. After a two-week long wait, Kedarnath Shukla while addressing a gathering of his supporters in Gauhani village, said, “I will contest the election from Sidhi to give a befitting reply to the BJP’s editorship.”
Importantly, the BJP has replaced Shukla with two-time Lok Sabha MP Riti Pathak. Despite being a strong leader and having a strong base among the Brahimin voters in Sidhi, Shukla was denied ticket due to the pee-gate controversy that broke out after a video surfaced on social media in July.
Pravesh Shukla, who was seen urinating on a tribal man Dashmat Rawat’s face, was then a representative of BJP MLA Kedarnath Shukla. Sensing anger from the tribal community, the BJP booked Pravesh Shukla under NSA and replaced the candidate from Sidhi. Kedarnath Shukla made all efforts to get a ticket from the Congress, however, sensing that inducting him in the party may upset the ST/SC voters, the Congress was yet to make any decision on him. And, the Congress is yet to announce its candidate from Sidhi.
The Congress also witnessed a jolt from Rewa district of Vindhya region as former Speaker Sriniwas Tiwari’s grandson Siddharth Tiwari (Raj) joined the BJP on Tuesday. Siddharth, who was preparing for the election from Teonthar Assembly seat, located in the bordering area of Prayag (Uttar Pradesh), however, was denied ticket at the last moment and the Congress fielded Ramashankar Patel.
Siddharth had even held a mega rally on the occasion of his grandfather’s birth anniversary on September 17 and several state party leaders, including former minister P. C. Sharma had attended the event in Teonthar. He was preparing from Teonthar because of two reasons — his grandfather Sriniwas Tiwari had won two elections from that particular seat before he shifted to Mangavan. Secondly, the Tenothar Assembly seat has nearly 70 per cent Brahmin voters.
Sriniwas Tiwari, who died in 2018 at the age of 93, was the Assembly Speaker during the Digvijaya Singh-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. His political rivalry against former Chief Minister Arjun Singh was much publicised. Sriniwas’ son Sundarlal Tiwari (Siddharth’s father), who died in 2021, was an MP from Rewa and also had been MLA from the Gurgh constituency.
In other examples of twisting politics of Vindhya region, BJP MLA from Maihar (Satna) Narayan Tripathi was also denied ticket this time and he is trying to get a place in the Congress. The Congress also wants to give him another chance (before becoming MLA from BJP, Tripathi was in Congress in 2013). However, sources told IANS that state Congress President Kamal Nath barred his second time entry because of his alleged connection in a famous ‘honey-trap’ incident that broke out a couple of years ago.
Beside all these leaders, one more ex-MLA from Vindhya region — Abhay Mishra — is running from one party office to another to secure a ticket for the Assembly election. Abhay and his wife Neelam Mishra had been elected MLAs from BJP’s ticket. However, due to a rift with senior BJP leader and Minister Rajendra Shukla, Abhay and his wife shifted to the Congress in 2018.
Two months ago, former MLA couple Abhay and Neelam joined the BJP again with the help of state BJP president V. D. Sharma and the state Home Minister Narottam Msihra. However, Rajendra Shukla, who has established himself as a strong Brahmin leader in the Vindhya region, opposed the development. Now, with the possibility of getting ticket minimizing, Abhay Mishra is making all efforts to get back into the Congress. (IANS)