Singh has traditionally contested from the Rajgarh LS seat.
New Delhi: Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, who, according to sources close to him, is being challenged by his own party leadership, will be contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Bhopal, which is traditionally a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seat.
On Saturday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath told media persons in Bhopal that the party had decided to field Singh from Bhopal.
Sources close to Digvijaya, who played a key role in the party coming back to power in the state after 15 years, said that it is clear that top party leaders who were feeling insecure of his popularity and influence, were trying to end his political career by asking him to contest from “BJP seats”. Congress had last won from Bhopal in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections.
Singh has traditionally contested from the Rajgarh Lok Sabha seat from where he won for the first time in 1984 and then in 1991.
Later, that seat was won by his brother Lakshman Singh five times (four times on Congress ticket, once on BJP ticket). This seat was won by the BJP candidate in 2014 elections.
Sources said that Digvijaya had made up his mind to contest this time from Rajgarh, which he would have won easily. In the 2014 elections, BJP candidate Alok Sanjar had won on the Bhopal seat by securing more than 7 lakh votes or 63% of the votes polled. Out the 8 Assembly seats in the constituency, the BJP had won on 5 seats in the 2018 Assembly elections.
“It is an established fact that if Singh had not put in his efforts, the party would not have won in Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections and the party should be thankful to him. However, party leaders went public with their statement that Singh being a senior leader should contest from seats that are perceived as BJP seats (Bhopal, Indore and Vidisha). The strategic thinking behind this political move is that if Singh loses, his political career will be over as these leaders know that Singh will not take any position in the party if he loses the election. They also knew that by publicly challenging him, they will leave him with no option, but to accept this challenge,” a source close to Singh said.
Singh was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2014 and his tenure will be ending next year.
While replying to the “challenge” thrown at him, Singh wrote on Twitter that he would contest from wherever Rahul Gandhi would ask him to.
“Singh has influence cutting across parliamentary seats as he knows even the junior most party workers by name in every Assembly constituency. Those who are against Singh believe that he will not be able to win from Bhopal, if he contests from there. But what if he manages to win from there?” a party functionary close to Singh wondered.
Singh supporters have also questioned why only Singh was being asked to leave his traditional seat and not Jyotiraditya Scindia.
“Why is Scindia not contesting from Indore? Why single out Singh alone?” a family friend of Singh asked.
However, another party leader said that Singh was “known” for his hold over party workers and the government machinery, apart from his extremely cordial relations with BJP leaders and hence he should have no problem in winning from any “BJP” seats.
“His supporters have been claiming all these years that he is more popular among the party workers compared to other state leaders. Keeping this belief of theirs in mind, I see no problem as to why Singh should have any issue in contesting from Bhopal?” he added.