By L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: Rebels are continuing to pose serious challenge to BJP as they have refused to withdraw nominations despite the efforts by the top national and state leaders of the party. According to estimates, more than 62 rebels are still in the field after the date of withdrawal. The most significant aspect of the crisis caused by the rebels is that most of them belong to the RSS.
Among the rebels declining to withdraw is Ram Krishna Kusumaria. How much importance he enjoyed in the BJP is indicated by the fact that he was included in the list of state campaign committee. Kusumaria has been MP, MLA and minister. The party leadership asked Prabhat Jha to fly to Damoh in a massive bid to persuade Kusumaria to withdraw his candidature. But he refused to oblige. Kusumaria is contesting from two Vidhan Sabha constituencies. In one of them he is pitted against Jayant Malaiya, senior most member of the Shiv Raj Singh cabinet holding finance portfolio. In the 2013 elections Malaiya won by a very narrow margin. Thus it will be difficult for Malaiya to retain his seat. Not only Malaiya’s, the electoral fate of at least 30 candidates, including ministers, hangs in balance.
State BJP spokesman Rajneesh Agarwal said the district chiefs have been told to initiate disciplinary action against rebels and expel them. Some of the big names in BJP, either contesting as independent or from rival parties or supporting the rivals may play spoilsport in achieving the party’s 200-plus target.
About 65 rebels and hundreds of their supporters are facing disciplinary action. Some big names include ex-MLAs Brahmanand Ratnakar (Beresiya), Vishwamitra Prathak (Sihawal in Sidhi), Narendra Singh Kushwaha (Bhind), Rajkumar Mev (Maheshwar), Dheeraj Pateria (Jabalpur North), Bharat Yadav (Panagar in Jabalpur), Ramesh Khatik (Karera in Shivpuri), KL Agarwal (Bamori in Guna), Kailash Kushwah (Pohri in Shivpuri), Sudama Singh (Pushprajgarh in Anuppur), Bisahulal Rautel (Anuppur ) and former Gwalior Mayor Sameekasha Gupta, who is contesting as an independent candidate from Gwalior South.
Some of the rebels, while agreeing to withdraw, are still indirectly supporting rival candidates and this can cause more damage to BJP. Former MLA from Huzur in Bhopal Jitendra Daga and Raghavji, who withdrew their candidature, said the very next day that the BJP candidate would not win in their areas.
In tribal dominated Anuppur district, BJP is facing a tough challenge from rebels in Anuppur, Kotma and Pushprajarh seats. In Bhopal, BJP candidate Vishnu Khatir will have to fight on two fronts – Congress candidate Jaishree Harikaran as well as rebel Brahmanand Ratnakar.
Sources said that BJP leaders were trying to convince rebels to surrender before the party’s official candidate to avoid expulsion. Leaders have also been asked to caution their supporters against anti-party activities or campaigning against party contestants.
It may be mentioned here that Raghavji was asked to resign from the cabined after a male staff member accused him of seeking sexual favour by mounting pressure on him. Raghavji was also arrested and is still facing criminal case. Raghavji became untouchable and party leaders severed ties with him. But he continued to be popular in Vidisha, his constituency. If he remained in the field it would have been difficult for the official BJP candidate to win. Considering this possibility, BJP leaders contacted him and requested him to withdraw his nomination. For Raghavji it was a solid opportunity because it amounted to his revival and it also meant that he ceased to be untouchable.
Rebellion against the party candidates is not the monopoly of the BJP alone. It has also affected the Congress, which is trying to overthrow the 15-year old BJP rule in Madhya Pradesh.
State Congress president Kamal Nath has appointed 70 campaign-in-charges in the past four days to pacify rebels and disgruntled party workers. Thirty more such unhappy party men will be given charge of campaigning in constituencies, though not necessarily in the seats they aspired for party tickets.
“All rebels have been placated”, said state Congress organisation vice-president Chandraprabhash Shekar. “There are only five to six rebels who remain adamant and the party may have to expel them,” he said.
The list of rebels in the Congress office on Thursday morning showed only eight such names. On Wednesday the party expelled former MLA Meda from primary membership after he refused to withdraw his candidature against party candidate Dr. Vikrant Bhurai from Jhabua. Medha won the 2008 elections by a margin of over 19,000 votes against BJP’s candidate but lost against Shantilal Bilwal by more than 15,000 votes in 2013.
The party, however, is silent on Nitin Chaturvedi, who is the son of senior party leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Satayvrat Chaturevedi. Nitin is contesting as SP candidate from Rajnagara assembly seat in Chhatarputr district. His father wanted the party ticket for Nitin from this seat. But senior leaders could not deny candidature to three-time MLA Vikram Singh Natiraja. “Nitin Chaturveddi is already contesting as SP candidate. How can the party expel him when he is no longer with us”. Chandraprabhash Shekhar said. Satyavrat Chaturvedi has announced that he will campaign for his son. But Congress still maintains that he is party’s star campaigner. (IPA Service)