The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Digvijay list hits party hurdle

New Delhi, Oct. 11: The Madhya Pradesh chief minister is facing stiff resistance on his choice of nominees for the December 1 Assembly polls, with Congress Working Committee member Arjun Singh and general secretary Kamal Nath disagreeing with the Digvijay Singh-dominated state election committeeís recommendations.

Arjun Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia have been called, in view of the differences, to attend the meeting of the central screening committee vetting the state unitís recommendations.

The central panel is headed by working committee member G. Venkataswami and includes Digvijay, Ghulam Nabi Azad, party general secretary in-charge of state affairs Ambika Soni, and state Congress president Radhakrishna Malaviya.

It is learnt that Arjun Singh and Kamal Nath, apparently upset that their views have not been considered, have opposed the state panelís choice for many seats where only one name has been suggested. So far, 68 such recommendations have been made for the 230-member Assembly.

The screening committee is expected to complete its exercise tomorrow. Sources said the central panel is comparing the state unitís choice of candidates with the constituency-wise assessment the high command has got from its six observers, who had come up with single names for most constituencies.

The high command has insisted that the observersí recommendations would carry lot of weight in the final choice of nominees. But sources said senior party leaders were not too happy with the prospect of leaving their areas of influence to the judgement of the observers.

Digvijay, who has insisted on retaining control over all poll-related decisions, may have to accommodate the interests of senior colleagues to some extent. He had done so in the 1998 polls to show during campaigning that the party was united.

However, central leaders are not the chief ministerís only problem. Many sitting MLAs have already arrived in the capital and are knocking at the doors of central leaders amid reports that Digvijay has dropped at least three dozen of them from his list.

Many MLAs are jittery about the prospects of their renomination in the wake of speculation that in Assembly segments where the party trailed by over 15,000 votes in the 1999 parliamentary elections the sitting legislator would be denied a ticket.

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