| Rahul Gandhi
Bhopal, Oct. 18: A surgeon is among those who are feeling the effects of the Rahul medicine.
The kith and kin of senior Congressmen have started withdrawing from contest in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh after Rahul Gandhi’s diktat discouraging senior leaders from pushing the names of close relatives for tickets.
AICC vice-president Rahul, who was in Shahdol and Gwalior yesterday to campaign for the November 25 elections, reportedly told senior leaders from the state not to lobby for tickets for relatives and supporters.
Taking a cue, the AICC general secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh, Mohan Prakash, said “guidelines” for party nominations make it clear that tickets would not be given to close relatives and supporters of senior leaders.
Within hours, Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kantilal Bhuria said his son, Vikrant, would not be contesting from Thandla constituency in Bhuria’s Ratlam district. Till last week, Vikrant’s name was being recommended by the district party unit to the AICC’s central screening committee.
Vikrant, 29, is a surgeon by profession but has become active in politics since his father took over as state Congress chief. Another Bhuria relative, Kalavati, is seeking a ticket from Jhabua district. But sources close to the MPCC chief said he would not lobby for Kalavati who happens to be his cousin.
Laxman Singh, the younger brother of AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh, is also ruling himself out as a candidate against the BJP chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Like Vikrant, Laxman was openly lobbying for a ticket. He had told the media that, given a chance, he would take on Chouhan from Budhni.
Laxman, a four-time Lok Sabha member and currently a vice-president in the state Congress, is a known maverick. He was in the BJP till six months ago. He quit the Congress in 2004 and went on to win the Rajgarh Lok Sabha seat for the BJP.
Although Chouhan’s grip on Budhni is formidable, the Singh brothers had wanted to score a point by conveying that they were prepared to pin him down in Budhni itself. Chouhan is the BJP’s most effective campaigner in almost all the 230 Assembly constituencies.
Congress insiders claim Digvijaya and Laxman decided to opt for “tactical retreat” to project themselves as abiding by Rahul’s call and to use the gesture to get a nomination for Digvijaya’s son Jaivardhan from Raghaogarh.
Jaivardhan, who has an MBA in rural development from Columbia University, has been working in Raghaogarh for a while now. Last year, he had organised a 150km padayatra in Raghaogarh. Jaivardhan — JV or Baba to his elders and friends — claims to be deeply influenced by Rahul.
Union parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath’s son Nakul would also not be joining the fray. There has been speculation that Nakul would be making his debut from Chhindwara district but sources close to Nath rule out such a possibility.
The Nath camp insists Nakul had ruled himself out weeks before Rahul urged senior leaders not to push the case of close relatives. Another senior leader, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, is said to have decided not to lobby for his son, Nitin.
AICC general secretary Prakash has, however, made it clear that Rahul’s diktat would not apply to those already in electoral politics. This means about a dozen Congressmen including Arjun Singh’s son Ajay, Suresh Pachauri’s nephew Gaurav, Srinivas Tiwari's son Sunder and others would not be discouraged from contesting elections.