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CM aspirants give headache to BJP

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | October 31, 2003 21:45 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to announce its chief ministerial candidate for Chhattisgarh in view of the fight among the aspirants for the post.

This became apparent on Thursday when during a luncheon meeting of Delhi chief ministerial candidate Madan Lal Khurana, the issue cropped up between journalists and BJP leaders.

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, BJP chief M Venkaiah Naidu and Law Minister Arun Jaitley attended the meeting.

On Friday, the leader of the opposition in the Chhattisgarh assembly, Nandkumar Sai, said he deserved to be the chief ministerial candidate.

"I am conversant with the politics of this state and outsiders simply don't fit the bill," Sai told rediff.com on phone

He said party legislators had unanimously elected him when Gujarat Chief Minister and party strongman Narendra Modi had come as an observer last year.

"My supporters will simply not tolerate (any other candidate). This should be cleared to all concerned," he said.

However, BJP spokesperson Prakash Jawidekar said since the leadership had not announced anybody's name, it was premature to make any comment.

Sai expressed outrage when media reports on Thursday said that the central Minister of State for Forests, Dilip Singh Judeo, a thakur, was likely to be the candidate.

Judeo gained some prominence among BJP circles for his role in what the party fondly describes as 'shuddhikaran' (reconverting to Hinduism tribals in Chhattisgarh who had taken to Christianity).

He reportedly has good ties with the tribals in the state and is staking his claim for this reason alone.

However, a BJP leader told rediff.com that the high command has other plans.

The high command, he pointed out, wants to project the central Minister of Coal and Mines Ramesh Bais as the candidate.

This is because Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has promised Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee the coal and mines portfolio, and asked her to wait till the assembly polls are over.

He said in this way the leadership can fulfil two objectives --pacify Banerjee and resolve the Chhattisgarh issue without much fuss.


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