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Scindia Loyalists Cornered? Divided Congress Gears up to Take on BJP in MP’s Jhabua Assembly Bypoll

Representative image.

Representative image.

Faction-ridden Congress has decided to field five-time parliamentarian Kantilal Bhuria, considered close to ex-MP Digvijaya Singh, for the bypoll slated to be held on October 21.

Bhopal: After denying a ticket to Javier Medha, considered close to ex-MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, for the Jhabua Assembly by-election, Congress functioanries and lawmakers who are reportedly loyal to the former AICC general secretary also seemed to have been given a short shrift by the party leadership.

Faction-ridden Congress has decided to field five-time parliamentarian Kantilal Bhuria from Jhabua for bypoll slated to be held on October 21. Bhuria, a veteran tribal leader, had lost to the BJP’s GS Damor in the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year. His son, Vikrant, too had tasted defeat in the last Assembly polls.

However, the party leadership decided to place its bet on the senior leader against Medha, a former Jhabua MLA who was being seen as strong claimant for the ticket. Medha has been named as features in the list of star campaigners.

Bhuria, seen as a close confidante of senior party leader Digvijaya Singh, is also said to be in the good books of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Meanwhile, none of the ministers from the ‘Scindia camp’ has been offered any official duty for the by-election, whereas nine ministers considered close to either chief minister Kamal Nath or Digvijaya Singh have been assigned key responsibilities.

These ministers include Bala Bachchan, Omkar Singh Markam, Vijaylaxmi Sadho, Kamleshwar Patel, Surendra Singh Baghel, Jitu Patwari, Harsh Yadav, Jaivardhan Singh and Priyavrat Singh.

The 40-member star campaigners’ list that includes Congress president Sonia Gandhi, ex-chief Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, 10 state ministers, 11 MLAs and party leaders from Gujarat has also kept away Umang Singhar, a prominent tribal face of the region and state Forest Minister.

Singhar, a three-time MLA from Gandhvani, does not belong to any particular faction, but holds sway among members of the Bhil tribe. He also draws his influence from the legacy of his aunt Jamuna Devi, the late Congress veteran and former deputy chief minister.

At a time when dissent was at its peak in the state unit and Singhar had taken on Digvijaya Singh accusing him of “indirectly running the state government”, Scindia had said the minister’s concerns should paid heed to. The raging feud was quelled only after the party high command intervened. Singhar’s aunt was also vocal about her problems with Singh when she was at the peak of her political career.

Meanwhile, in a move that could give some respite to the crisis-hit Congress, tribal outfit Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakri (JAYS) has recently announced to support the grand old party in the by-election.

JAYS national convener Heeralal Alawa, whose organisation has gained some ground among the tribal communities, has also been named a campaigner by the Congress. Alawa had contested the last Assembly poll on a Congress ticket and is an MLA from Manawar in the neighbouring Dhar district.