The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minister husband lobs contest threat

New Delhi, Oct. 30: They have stopped living as man and wife. In fact, they could even end up as man versus wife.

Bharat Kak, a Congress zilla parishad member in Pali district, and his estranged wife Beena, Rajasthan’s high-profile minister of state for forests, are locked in a bitter political fight that could well see them in a poll face-off in the remote Sumerpur Assembly segment.

Beena’s blossoming political career is widely believed to have wrecked their love marriage. Popular in the desert state, Beena — whom some American journalists described as a “one-time beauty queen”, — hogged the limelight for a few days as the minister accompanying former US President Bill Clinton during the Rajasthan leg of his India visit in March 2000.

Bharat, some people say, was unable to digest her rise. So he walked out of their marriage about two years ago — a court battle is on for a formal divorce. Or, maybe, he himself began to nurse bigger ambitions after Beena helped him become a Congress member of the Pali zilla parishad.

Bharat does not want to discuss what went wrong. All his energy is now focused on denying Beena a re-nomination for a third successive term from Sumerpur.

What if the Congress does field her' Bharat’s sole aim would then be to ensure that she bites the dust in the December 1 poll. That is why he is believed to have held out a threat to enter the fray as a rebel candidate.

Bharat is now camping at the national capital to scuttle Beena’s re-nomination and secure the Sumerpur seat for himself. He has approached the general secretary in charge of Rajasthan, Ambika Soni, central screening committee chairman Manmohan Singh and many others.

Before coming here, he completed a round of anti-Beena canvassing in Jaipur with top state leaders, including chief minister Ashok Gehlot and state Congress chief Girijya Vyas.

Bharat has come armed with reports of central election observers that apparently cast doubts on Beena’s re-election prospects.

He contends that at least one observer, Sagar Raika, has given an “adverse political report”. He has also come with “endorsement letters” from district, block and various panchayat-level leaders for his claim to the Sumerpur ticket.

Sources in the party headquarters are, however, more or less certain that Beena would be fielded again.

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