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Uma in fray, but not vs Digvijay
Uma Bharti

New Delhi, Nov. 3: The BJP today officially announced that Uma Bharti will be its chief ministerial candidate in Madhya Pradesh but sprang a surprise by nominating national general secretary Shivraj Singh Chauhan from Raghogarh to take on chief minister Digvijay Singh.

Chauhan, who is from the Other Backward Classes, is said to have good organisational skills and, sources say, the leadership is trying to tie down Digvijay to his constituency by pitting the former BJP Yuva Morcha president against him.

Moreover, if he wins, he can be considered for the chief minister’s post in case the party wrests power from the Congress and the Ayodhya chargesheet comes in Bharti’s way. Bharti will contest from the Bada Malara constituency in Chhatarpur district.

The BJP’s central election committee, chaired by party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu, met at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s residence and, by evening, cleared 139 names, including those of the two Lok Sabha MPs. The first list has 59 sitting MLAs. There are 24 scheduled caste candidates and 29 from the scheduled tribes. Names of candidates for the remaining 91 constituencies will be released tomorrow.

Other leaders who were part of the confabulations included deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, Union finance minister Jaswant Singh, human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, general secretary Pramod Mahajan and health minister Sushma Swaraj.

The Congress had on Saturday cleared 220 candidates at one go. It nominated another five today. The sources said the BJP is still grappling with its list because demands for tickets from several party leaders for their wards is delaying the process.

Sitting MLA and Bharti’s brother Swami Prasad Lodhi, who had revolted against the party recently, will contest from Pichhore, considered a safe seat. While state BJP president Kailash Joshi — a Bharti rival — has opted out, his son Deepak Joshi has been nominated from Bagli. The Prime Minister’s nephew and sitting MLA, Anoop Mishra, has been shifted from Laskhar West (Gwalior) to Laskhar East.

Archana Chitnis, the daughter of former Speaker Birj Mohan Mishra, has been fielded from Nepanagar. Om Prakash Sakhlecha, the son for former chief minister Virendra Kumar Sakhlecha, is contesting from Javad. Rajendra Pandey, the son of Lok Sabha MP Lakshmi Narayan Pandey, has been fielded from Jalwara.

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