The ‘vulnerable’ factor: BJP pips Congress with timing in Madhya Pradesh

BJP took the lead by announcing the list of candidates for vulnerable seats in the State; the list includes some names who lost the previous election narrowly

August 18, 2023 05:16 am | Updated 05:16 am IST - RAIPUR

The names were decided at the BJP’s central election committee meeting on August 16, 2023 which was chaired by party chief J.P. Nadda and attended by PM Modi as well as Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah among other senior leaders.

The names were decided at the BJP’s central election committee meeting on August 16, 2023 which was chaired by party chief J.P. Nadda and attended by PM Modi as well as Union Ministers Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah among other senior leaders. | Photo Credit: PTI

For long, the Madhya Pradesh Congress has spoken about identifying vulnerable seats and even followed it up by zeroing on a number (66) with one of its two senior-most leaders, former CM Digvijaya Singh, touring those areas. 

Yet, it was the BJP that used the contours of the same strategy and made the announcement well ahead of the Congress in seats where its electoral record has been patchy. It named 39 candidates in its first list for the 2023 Assembly election announced on Thursday. 

Nearly a third of these candidates - 14 - are those who lost the election in 2018, some narrowly. For example, Madhu Verma from Indore’s Rau lost by a margin of just over 5,000 to Jitu Patwari, former working president of the Congress. 

The list includes 21 names who will contest on reserved seats, among them 13 ST and eight SC candidates. There are 13 OBCs as well. State BJP chief V.D. Sharma pointed out that 14 candidates were below the age of 50, underscoring the emphasis on youth. 

The list also contains two names for Bhopal – Alok Sharma from Bhopal Uttar and Dhruv Narayan Singh from Bhopal Madhya, both constituencies with sizeable Muslim population and currently represented by the Congress’ Arif Aqueel and Arif Masood respectively. 

Among them, Mr. Singh is the son of former M.P. CM Govind Narayan Singh. The list includes at least three other candidates who are the family members of senior BJP leaders. Sarla Rawat, who has been fielded from Sabalgarh, is the daughter-in-law of late Meharban Singh Rawat. Neeraj Singh Thakur, contesting from Patan of Jabalpur district, is the son of former BJP MLA Pratibha Singh. Former MLA Manvendra Singh’s son Kamakshya Singh will be fighting from Maharajpur seat in Chhatarpur district.

Party sources further added that winnability has been the main criterion with the party also factoring in “local connect” and how resourceful the candidate was. 

From Pichhore in Shivpuri, the party has fielded Pritam Lodhi, an OBC leader and relative of former CM Uma Bharti who had made controversial statements against Brahmins last year, that resulted in his expulsion and subsequent return to the BJP fold.

Adal Singh Kansana, one of the 22 MLAs who joined the BJP along with Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in 2020, has been fielded from Sumawali in Morena. While the switch had helped BJP return to power again, Mr. Kansana himself had lost in the by-election necessitated by the crossover. 

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