The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh sets sights on BJP election reins

Bhopal, Oct. 10: The RSS has tested the waters for taking charge of the BJP’s run for power in Madhya Pradesh.

At a marathon meeting held at Keshav Needam — the state RSS headquarters — the umbrella organisation is said to have cleared the names of about 220 of the 230 candidates for the December 1 Assembly elections, days ahead of meetings of the BJP’s central screening committee and other executive bodies.

Sources said the names picked by the Sangh would be forwarded to these forums, which will find themselves in a fix if differences of opinion arise. But if they accept the list as such, it will render them redundant.

When the BJP’s election bodies sit with the RSS list, the Jammu and Kashmir elections will be weighing heavily on their mind.

In the elections in Jammu last year, a snubbed Sangh had taken the unprecedented step of floating its own party, the Jammu State Morcha.

The Sangh, which was livid at the BJP for rejecting out of hand the demand to trifurcate the state, had ignored the party’s pleas to withdraw the morcha’s candidates, ensuring a BJP wipeout in the Jammu region.

The BJP is expected to think twice before it repeats the “mistake” in Madhya Pradesh.

Several top BJP leaders, including chief ministerial aspirant Uma Bharti, state BJP chief Kailash Joshi, national general secretary Sanjay Joshi and state RSS chief Narmohan were among those who attended the 12-hour meeting at the Sangh base.

The Sangh has cited rampant promotion of kith and kin by a section of the state BJP leaders for its intervention.

There is no dearth of senior party leaders pushing names of their close relatives for tickets.

Former chief minister Sunderlal Patwa’s brother Sampatlal and son Surendra are in the race for nominations. BJP chief Joshi is lobbying for son Deepak in the Baghli Assembly seat while the late V.K. Saklecha’s son Om Prakash wants to encash the former chief minister’s legacy. Union minister Vikram Verma is trying to get a nomination for wife Neena from Dhar.

The Sangh also wants to keep central ministers and former chief ministers away from the poll committee on the ground that most of them hail from the Malwa region and their presence could cause “regional imbalance”.

If the Sangh succeeds in taking over the electioneering and the selection process, it is expected to throttle raging dissidence. The move will also establish Uma’s supremacy in the process.

Had the Sangh not declared its intent to step in decisively, BJP factions, including those headed by Joshi, Patwa and Sumitra Mahajan, would have waged a bruising battle among themselves.

Not everyone is pleased with the Sangh’s proactive plan and, if it holds sway eventually, some heads are likely to roll. The leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, Babulal Gaur, is set to be one such casualty.

Gaur is a known Uma-baiter and had won Bhopal’s Govindpura seat by a huge margin. However, this time, his name is being withheld on a premise that he would be fielded for the Lok Sabha election in place of Uma from Bhopal.

But Gaur is reluctant on two counts. He said he has no desire to move to “central politics”. Second, there are several “ifs and buts” in the promise as it would depend on the BJP’s performance in the state polls and Uma’s elevation as chief minister.

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