Bhopal, Aug. 22: Sushma beware, Digvijaya is spoiling for a fight.
AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh today said he was prepared to contest against senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj from Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, in the upcoming general election.
“I am ready to contest Lok Sabha (elections) from any constituency in the state,” the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister said, speaking informally to journalists at Bhopal’s Coffee House. “If the high command wishes, I am even prepared to contest from Vidisha.”
Sushma, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, had in 2009 won from Vidisha by a margin of over four lakh votes.
In Bhopal, the Congress leader’s challenge is seen in the context of his bid to return to electoral politics. Minutes after losing the 2003 Assembly polls, Digvijaya had declared that he would not hold any office for the next 10 years.
“Now I am ready to return to electoral politics,” Digvijaya, who was chief minister between 1993 and 2003, said.
Assembly elections in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh are due in November but Digvijaya appeared to be ruling out a return to state electoral politics.
State Congress circles view Digvijaya’s latest posture as a shrewd move. His 27-year-old son Jaiwardhan Singh, an MBA from Columbia University in rural development, is set to contest in the Assembly polls from family pocket borough Raghaogarh.
Digvijaya’s younger brother Laxman, who was until recently in the BJP, is now vice-president of the Congress’s state unit.
Digvijaya was sipping coffee and munching on vadas, idli and aloo bonda when Jaiwardhan, also known as JV, called him. Digvijaya put the speaker on, letting everyone hear JV’s light banter.
“Wow, you are having a good time in the coffee house while I am toiling hard in the constituency…” the young man told his father.
Digvijaya said he had no intention to contest from his traditional Lok Sabha constituency Rajgarh, now represented by Congress MP Narain Singh, an influential backward caste leader from the region.
Congress insiders say Narain Singh’s support would be crucial for Jaiwardhan. The Raghaogarh Assembly segment is part of Rajgarh Lok Sabha constituency.
Asked to comment on Haryana bureaucrat Ashok Khemka’s criticism of Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, embroiled in a controversial land deal, Digvijaya said: “What is preventing Khemka or any BJP leader from filing a case or approaching court?”
Defending Vadra’s credentials as a “private citizen”, Digvijaya said it was “unethical” of the BJP to target an “apolitical person”. As far as he knew, Digvijaya said, Vadra is officially not part of the Congress.