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Turncoats in Vogue: BJP, Congress Bet on Each Other's Rebels for Six Seats in Madhya Pradesh Bypolls

The BJP and Congress camps have witnessed unease among their own cadres after picking turncoats as candidates.

The BJP and Congress camps have witnessed unease among their own cadres after picking turncoats as candidates.

Overall, the BJP has named 25 former Congressmen who joined the saffron party in March this year while the Congress has fielded six former leaders of the BJP, two from the BSP, and one from the Bahujan Sangharsh Dal.

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Vivek Trivedi

Swarming with turncoats, the Madhya Pradesh assembly bypolls for 28 seats on November 3 have some interesting contests lined up. At least on half a dozen seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have reposed faith in each other’s rebels, ignoring claims of their own dedicated cadres.

Observers say political ideologies tend to dilute whenever polls are around as leaders craving tickets seldom hesitate to jump ship and this exactly has been the case in Madhya Pradesh.

The BJP has named 25 former Congressmen who joined the saffron party in March this year while the Congress has fielded six former leaders of the BJP, two from the BSP—Pragilal Jatav and Satyaprakash Sakhwar—and one from the Bahujan Sangharsh Dal, Phool Singh Baraiya, who in the past was also with the Bahujan Samaj Party.

For obvious reasons, the BJP and Congress camps have witnessed unease among their own cadres after picking turncoats as candidates. The dissent, however, has been more pronounced in the Congress camp.

1. Dabra – Here the BJP has picked women and child development minister Imarti Devi who left the Congress with Jyotiraditya Scindia in March. A three-time MLA, the rabble-rousing minister is pitted against Suresh Raje, her close relative. Raje who had been a BJP leader for four decades was quick to switch over to the Congress when Imarti Devi was fielded as the BJP candidate. He even made an objectionable remark about the minister but later expressed regret after the controversy grew.

2. Sanwer- At this seat in Indore, the BJP has fielded cabinet minister Tulsiram Silawat, best known as the right-hand man of Jyotiraditya Scindia. The Congress had nominated Premchand Guddu, a former MP who in the past had deserted the party to join the BJP but returned ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Guddu has faced significant opposition from within the party over his nomination.

3. Bamori – The seat is witnessing a contest between Shivraj Chouhan's minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia and Chouhan’s former cabinet colleague Kanhaiya Lal Agrawal. Agrawal, a senior politician, had left the BJP over denial of ticket.

4. Sumawali – Situated in Morena district, the seat is witnessing a contest between minister Adal Singh Kansana, a former Congressman and Ajab Singh Kushwaha who had left the BJP over denial of ticket.

5. Gwalior East – A constituency in Gwalior, the seat has Satish Sikarwar, a former BJP corporator, as the Congress candidate, while the BJP has fielded Congress rebel Munnalal Goyal, a close aide of Jyotiraditya Scinda.

6. Surkhi- A constituency in Sagar district, the mainstream political parties have swapped candidates as the BJP has fielded former Congressman Govind Singh Rajput while the Congress has fielded former BJP MLA Parul Sahu who joined the grand old party sensing that she won’t be offered a ticket.

Out of these, the candidates in the fray were the same in the 2018 assembly polls at Sumawali, and Gwalior East but with opposite parties.

Commenting on the turncoats fielded by the BJP, senior leader Umashankar Gupta said that the party has decided to bet on those who have joined the BJP in a selfless manner, shunning ministerial berths and membership to assembly for the cause of the public.

Former Congress minister Lakhan Singh Yadav, however, said that those who sold the public mandate and betrayed the voters are being fielded by the BJP. "Those who approached us, haven’t betrayed anyone," he claimed.


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