When it came to BJP, former Union minister Sartaj Singh, MLA Sanjay Sharma and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s brother-in-law Sanjay Masani, former Ministers Ramkrishna Kusumaria and Ragahavji also left the party because they were denied tickets. Ragahavji was asked to resign in the wake of charges of sexual exploitation of one of his staff members. Kusumaria was MP, MLA and minister. There have also been defections by second rank leaders, including Jitendra Daga, a former MLA from Bhopal, and Brahmna Ratnakar, former MLA from Beresia.

Both parties departed from the guidelines which they themselves laid down for the allotment of tickets. For instance, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had declared that ‘parachute’ leaders will not get party ticket. What he meant was that politicians who joined Congress after the commencement of election process will not get tickets. But the party violated Rahul’s guidelines and allotted tickets to some persons who crossed over after they were denied ticket by their own party. In fact, Sartaj was adopted as Congress candidate the very day he joined the Congress. Similarly, the BJP gave tickets to Congressmen who joined it in the midst of the process of candidates selection.

The BJP leadership successfully foiled a possible revolt by Babulal Gaur, who was angry because the party nearly decided to deny ticket to him or to his daughter-in-law Krishna Gaur. After Gaur came to know about the reported denial, he and his daughter-in-law announced that they will contest as independents. This sent shock waves in the party. Denial of ticket to Gaur, who was ten terms MLA and served the party as opposition leader, chief minister and minister, was fraught with serious consequences. Frantic consultations started and ultimately following the intervention of Amit Shah, the green signal was given to Krishna Gaur, who filed her nomination papers from Govindpura constituency which Babulal Gaur had represented for almost 40 years. Similarly, the party conceded the demand of Kailash Vijayvargiya, general secretary of the BJP, for a ticket for his son, although tickets were denied to the sons of Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

The most dramatic and surprising decision was taken by Congress when it sponsored Arun Yadav, former state Congress president, against chief minister Chauhan in his home turf. One of the unique features of the Congress list is the inclusion of three Muslims, two from Bhopal and a woman Muslim candidate from Sironj of Vidisha district. Similarly, for the first time BJP has sponsored a Muslim woman from Bhopal to oppose Congress candidate Arif Aqueel. She is Fatima Siddiqui, who got the BJP ticket on the same day she joined the party.

So it is clear that the BJP, which has been highly critical of dynasty politics so far, has fallen prey to the same malaise. In a bid to retain power for the fourth time in a row, the saffron party has forgotten its stand on ‘parivarvad’ and given tickets to sons of several senior party leaders. In the process, it has sacrificed principles at the altar of ‘winnability’.

Already facing strong criticism from within the party over ticket-distribution, BJP is now finding it extremely difficult to justify its stand on dynasty politics. So far the party has chosen 20 candidates who were directly or indirectly related to senior leaders.

BJP’s family flavour surfaced in the very first list of 176 candidates when it chose to field Mudit, son of minister Gauri Shankar Shejwar, from Sanchi. Shejwar had urged the party leadership to replace him with his son as he was unwilling to fight the election and wanted to promote young blood.

This was followed by Vikram Singh, son of minister of state Harsh Singh, who managed to get the party ticket from Rampur Baghelan in Satna district. Harsh Singh was keeping unwell for long time and wanted to retire from active politics. Incidentally Harsh Singh is the son of former chief minister Govind Narayan Singh.

The party also chose Rakesh Prajapati to replace his father RK Prajapati from Chandla (SC) in Chhatarpur district. Sudhir Yadav, son of Sagar Lok Sabha member Laxminarayan Yadav, has been given ticket from Surkhi. Sachin replaced sitting MLA Parul Sahu, who had won the previous assembly election by a thin margin of 141 votes.

In Tikamgarh district BJP chose Abinav Yadav, son of former minister Akhand Pratap Singh from Prithvipur, while in Khargapur the party has fielded Rahul Lodhi, nephew of Union minister Uma Bharti. Rahul had lost the seat in 2013 to Congress candidate Chanda Gaur by a margin of 5,677 votes.

In the second and third lists BJP continued to follow ‘parivarvad’. The party also chose Chaudhary Rakesh Chaturvedi for the Bhind assembly seat. Rakesh had joined BJP in 2013 and supported his brother Mukesh for a party ticket from Mehgaon in 2013. Mukesh had won the election. Recently Rakesh had disclosed that he would return to active politics which resulted in his selection from Bhind. However, his brother Mukesh has been dropped this time.

Following denial of ticket a Congress leader from Gwalior tried to commit suicide.
(IPA Service)