Bhopal: Minutes after senior BJP leader Sartaj Singh switched over to the Congress after he was denied a ticket by the BJP, he found a mention in the grand old party’s fifth list for the Madhya Pradesh elections.
Singh, who was the Union minister for health and family welfare in the 13-day Vajpayee government in 1998, has held several portfolios in the Madhya Pradesh government in the past. However, he was shunted out of the cabinet in 2016 on the basis of the 75-plus age criteria and had been at odds with the BJP since then.
A politician with a strong grassroots connect, Singh defeated Congress veteran late Arjun Singh in the 1998 Lok Sabha polls from Hoshangabad.
Singh, who represents Seoni-Malwa at present, was adamant on a ticket from the seat again but was refused. An upset Singh on Thursday went to Hoshangabad and was seen in tears after the third list of the BJP was announced.
On being ignored by the BJP, the 78-year-old said justice was denied to seniors like him. “I won’t die suffocating at home. I will take to the battlefield and die like a martyr,” he said.
Soon, he announced his decision to join the Congress. Barely half-an-hour later, the grand old party announced its list, naming Singh as the candidate from Hoshangabad against assembly speaker Dr Sitasaran Sharma.
Sources said the Congress, which did not name anyone from Seoni Malwa, was looking for a formidable opponent to field against Sharma.
After the BJP announced that it would field Babulal Gaur’s daughter-in-law Krishna from Govindpura in Bhopal, the Congress too named senior corporator Girish Sharma from Govindpura. A confident Sharma had already filed his nomination on Thursday.
The party also nominated Naresh Gyanchandani, a prominent Sindhi community leader from Huzur seat in Bhopal. Shivjeet Singh has been given a ticket from Panna where the BJP is still in a dilemma over denying ticket to minister Kusum Mahdele.
Basilal Verma, who was earlier nominated from Devsar, has been replaced by Rambhajan Saket. The Manpur seat, from where Tilak Raj Singh was named earlier, now shows ‘pending for candidature’. Farmer union leader Umrao Singh Gurjar has been named from Manada in Neemuch, which witnessed farmers’ agitation in 2017.
In its latest list, the party named 15 candidates, replaced one and rolled back one name.
The Congress also suffered a minor jolt on Thursday after Nitin Chaturvedi, son of senior party leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi, filed nomination from Rajnagar as a Samajwadi Party candidate. “Whatever mistakes the Congress made earlier are being repeated for the past 15 years and we have decided to approach the public’s court,” an upset Chaturvedi said.