Brother versus brother or keeping it in-house? One Madhya Pradesh seat poses query

While the Sharma brothers are locked in a tight contest in Hoshangabad constituency, the locals see the rivalry as an attempt to keep the seat with the family

Updated - November 07, 2023 02:19 am IST

Published - November 06, 2023 08:19 pm IST - HOSHANGABAD

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan during a roadshow in support of BJP candidate Sitasharan Sharma ahead of the State Assembly elections, in Narmadapuram, on October 25, 2023.

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan during a roadshow in support of BJP candidate Sitasharan Sharma ahead of the State Assembly elections, in Narmadapuram, on October 25, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

For the BJP and the Congress, the keen contest in Madhya Pradesh is perhaps best exemplified by the face off between the Sharma brothers in Hoshangabad constituency. Sitasharan Sharma, sitting MLA and BJP candidate, faces off against elder brother Girija Shankar Sharma from the Congress, but locals are looking at it with a more jaundiced eye.

The way the Congress and BJP leaders tell the story, Mr. Girija Shankar, who was earlier with the BJP and had been MLA from Itarsi before the 2006 delimitation, had wanted to contest the election from Hoshangabad on behalf of the BJP. He got trumped by his younger brother, former Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Mr. Sitasharan, who has been representing the seat since 2013. The Congress, in order to challenge the BJP in a seat where the latter rarely loses, fielded the disgruntled elder brother.

“There is nothing unusual in this face-off, it derives from our Sanskar itself. Like in the Mahabharata, Karna and Arjuna are brothers but on opposite sides. Karna, despite being a good man, fights on the side of adharma and Arjuna fights for dharma,” says Mr. Sitasharan, obviously positing himself as Arjuna rather than Karna. “The contest between us is ideological and not personal at all,” he says, adding that they even share an accountant.

Nevertheless, to avoid awkward social encounters while campaigning against each other, Mr. Sitasharan says he is determined not to meet his brother till after November 17, the polling day. “And I will win,” he adds for emphasis.

All these seem like fighting words, but Sanjay Jaiswal, sitting outside the Narmadapuram collectorate (Hoshangabad district was renamed as Narmadapuram), shooting the breeze, is not impressed. “Ghee toh ek hi matka main jayega [the butter will be put in the same vessel],” he says, alluding to the fact that irrespective of who wins, it will be a victory chalked down to the Sharma family.

Abdul Sadiq, who runs a tea stall next to the collectorate, has an even stronger suggestion. “This time round you should vote for a third person, someone like Bhagwati Choure,” he says, referring to an Independent candidate in the fray.

“All the yojanas etc., are just lollipops, we need someone who will work for the area,” he adds.

Mr. Choure in fact has long been associated with the Sharma family and was hopeful of a BJP ticket as well, filing two sets of nominations while awaiting the B-form issued by the BJP, which failed to arrive. His second set of nominations, as an Independent, was accepted after scrutiny.

Politics, it is said, recognises no blood ties and it seems the Madhya Pradesh election is a true demonstration of that.

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