The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fort setting for dynasty drama
- Deserted by brother, Digvijay vows to keep wife away from polls

Bhopal, March 18: “I have lost my brother and now I do not wish to lose my wife,” Digvijay Singh said with a tinge of sadness as he ruled out his wife Asha contesting from Rajgarh, around 300 km north of Bhopal.

The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister had vehemently, and unsuccessfully, opposed his brother Laxman’s entry into politics in 1984. The Congress leader had told his late mother Aparna Kumari that he would rather “retire” in Laxman’s favour than of have him fight polls.

Aparna Kumari, trying to be fair to both sons, did not understand Digvijay’s fears. The former chief minister’s nightmare came true recently when his brother walked out on the Congress to join the BJP.

Rajgarh fort, their ancestral home, is beginning to tremble in anticipation of the trouble that could follow. A major part of the fort is occupied by Laxman, who lives there. Digvijay does not.

With elections nudging close and Laxman set to contest from Rajgarh or neighbouring Guna as a BJP candidate, there are fears that the fort would become the battleground for activists of the rival parties.

Digvijay recently visited the fort and spent a night there while his brother was away in Delhi.

Sources close to him are apprehensive that an “ugly situation” might develop closer to the elections when Congress and BJP supporters are bound to visit the fort as it becomes the epicentre of political activity in the area.

The Congress leader is coming under pressure to take on Laxman.

The Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, which is packed with Digvijay baiters, has asked Sonia Gandhi and Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, general secretary in charge of the state, to “direct” the former chief minister — or, at least, his wife — to contest against his brother. Asha dislikes politics but is popular with Rajgarh residents.

State Congress chief Subhash Yadav and Jamuna Devi, the Congress leader in the Assembly, have openly demanded Digvijay’s candidature. Jamuna has even said Digvijay must undergo the “litmus test” of election to prove his loyalty to the party. But then she has also levelled the charge that Laxman’s defection had his elder brother’s approval, an accusation Digvijay denies.

A similar tribulation is tormenting the Scindias. Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia has been named from Guna while his mother Madhviraje’s name is under consideration from Gwalior. The high command seems to believe that Madhavrao Scindia’s widow would be able to generate sympathy votes and win.

The BJP wishes to field Yashodhara Raje from either Rajgarh or Guna. Yashodhara is not in favour of taking on nephew Jyotiraditya, but her rival Uma Bharti camp is pressing for a Scindia versus Scindia contest. Yashodhara would rather be fielded from Rajgarh as it was part of the former Gwalior kingdom and have Laxman Singh fight Jyotiraditya instead.

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