Ticket distribution problems plague Congress in Madhya Pradesh (Lead)November 6th, 2008 - 10:19 pm ICT by IANS
Bhopal, Nov 6 (IANS) Despite firefighting efforts by the party high command, the simmering discontent among Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh over denial of tickets for the Nov 27 state elections has come out into the open. Two former ministers Thursday quit the party - one to contest as an independent and the other to join the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh Thursday appealed to party workers to forget their differences and work for the party’s victory in the state.
Singh, who was state chief minister for 10 years, urged the Congress activists to work unitedly for the party nominees and ensure the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s defeat.
“All of us know that everyone can’t be made a nominee. Those who did not get tickets may be pained but this is the time for us to forget all our differences and work for the formation of a Congress government in the state,” he said.
But no sooner did Singh issue the statement than reports came of party leader Manvendra Singh, who was minister under him, quitting the party and deciding to contest as an Independent.
Manvendra Singh wanted to contest either from Maharajpur or Bijawar constituency, in Chhattarpur district. He decided to quit after the Congress denied him ticket from either.
A couple of hours later, another former minister in the Digvijay cabinet and a protégé of late Madhavrao Scindia, Balendu Shukla, quit the party to join the BSP at Gwalior.
Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Anant Mishra, who granted Shukla BSP membership, declared him as the party’s candidate from Gwalior (South) seat.
On Wednesday, two other party leaders crossed over to other parties - Congress spokesman Mukesh Nayak joined Uma Bharati’s Bharatiya Jan Shakti (BJS) party while Shankar Pratap Singh is contesting from Rajnagar in Chhattarpur on a BSP ticket.
Party leaders are angry at state Congress chief Suresh Pachouri, especially after reports that he was able to corner tickets for a majority of seats for his group in the second list of candidates. Not only disgruntled ticket aspirants but their political mentors are miffed at the development.
Hundreds of supporters of Kedar Singh Mandloi, an aspiring candidate from Kalapipal, staged a demonstration at the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) office in Bhopal on Tuesday and Wednesday, after Saroj Kumari Singh was given the ticket instead.
Earlier, a group of party activists tried to torch the effigy of Pachouri at the PCC office but his supporters chased the protesters away.
On Sunday, former state Congress spokesperson Arif Masood’s supporters mobbed Digvijay Singh at the PCC office demanding a ticket for their leader from Bhopal (central).
On the other hand, a group of Sahariya tribals from the farms of Raghogarh Congress candidate Mul Singh have been opposing giving him the party ticket instead of to Digvijay Singh. Mul Singh is a protege of Digvijay Singh.
There have also been protests against giving the ticket to Balkrishna Gautam, who is said to be close to Suresh Pachauri, for Dhar constituency.