Splits wide open
THE WEEK|September 20, 2020
The after-effects of Scindia’s entry into the BJP have muddled the bypoll campaign
SRAVANI SARKAR

WITH BYELECTIONS due in 27 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP and the Congress are caught in a deep political quagmire. The depth of it was evident from two political developments in the last fortnight. On September 8, the BJP’s powerful leader in Gwalior, Satish Singh Sikarwar, joined the Congress in the presence of state Congress president and former chief minister Kamal Nath.

Sikarwar resented the BJP’s decision to induct Jyotiraditya Scindia, MP, and his supporters in March. “We have always fought feudalism, and the person against whom we had been struggling for years is now in the BJP. It was not possible to continue there. The struggle against feudalism will now continue through the Congress,” he said.

Sikarwar is considered close to Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who is also from Gwalior. Interestingly, a few days before Sikarwar joined the Congress, Tomar and state BJP president Vishnu Dutt Sharma had held a series of coordination meetings with party workers in nearby Guna and Shivpuri districts. The workers were told to wholeheartedly support Scindia and his followers in the run-up to the bypolls. Sikarwar’s move, say observers, could be Tomar’s way of indicating his displeasure at Scindia’s growing clout.

Sikarwar had contested the Gwalior East assembly constituency in 2018, but lost to Munnalal Goyal of the Congress. Goyal is in the BJP now, and he is assured of the party ticket to contest the bypoll in Gwalior East. Sikarwar’s entry into the Congress means he would again take on Goyal; only the poll symbols would change.

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