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|November 14, 1998||
Several big guns in MP fray
With the deadline for withdrawal of nominations for the November 25 assembly election over, the battle lines are drawn between the two traditional rivals in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Prominent politicians of both parties, including Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, state Congress president Urmila Singh, former chief ministers Shyama Charan Shukla (Congress) and Sunderlal Patwa (BJP), and Vikram Verma, leader of the opposition in the assembly, are engaged in multi-cornered contests.
Of the 320 seats in the assembly, the Congress is contesting 316, with its nominees contesting as independents in Gwalior and Rewa because the party symbol could not be allotted on technical grounds. The party has left Rampur and Khairalanji to the Republican Party of India.
The BJP has put up candidates for all 320 seats, including Dongargarh in Rajnandgaon district where an RPI (Khobragade) candidate is contesting on its lotus symbol.
Digvijay Singh, who represents Chachoda (Guna district), will contest the Raghogarh seat, where four more candidates are in the fray, including the BJP's Chanchal Kumar Jain.
In the last assembly election, Singh's brother Laxman Singh had vacated the Raghogarh seat for him after his election as leader of the Congress legislature party. But the by-election could not be held because of an election petition filed by the defeated BJP candidate. Singh later contested and won the neighbouring Chachoda seat.
The highest number of candidates, 20, are trying their luck in Katghora (Korba) and Bhilai (Durg).
In four seats, Timarni, Harsud, Maheshwar, and Anjad, there will be straight contests. Public Works Minister Vijay Laxmi Sadho is contesting Maheshwar.
A triangular contest will be witnessed in as many as 21constituencies, including Bagli, Dewas and Mhow, from where former chief minister Kailash Joshi, assembly Deputy Speaker Bharulal Patidar, and Tukojirao Pawar (all BJP), respectively, are seeking re-election.
In Bhojpur (Raisen), senior BJP politician and former chief minister Sunderlal Patwa will face an encounter with five candidates, including Vijay Dhakad of the Congress. Patwa won the seat in 1993, but vacated it following his election to the Lok Sabha in 1996 from Chhindwara. He lost the Chhindwara seat this year.
There will be four-cornered contests in 29 constituencies, including Kasarawad (Khargone) and Tapakara (Jashpur) where Deputy Chief Minister Subhash Yadav (Congress) and state BJP president Nand Kumar Sai, respectively, are seeking re-election.
Leader of the Opposition Verma, contesting Dhar, is pitted against the Congress, Shiv Sena, Ajeya Bharat Party, and an independent.
State Congress chief Urmila Singh is fighting the BJP's Vimla Marrakone and four others in Ghansaur (Seoni).
Senior Congressman S C Shukla is trying to complete his second electoral hat-trick in Rajim (Raipur) where the BJP's Dr Neena Singh and five more candidates are also in the fray.
Industry and Commerce Minister Narendra Nahata is once again in the fray from Manasa (Neemuch), facing four other candidates.
In Sohagpur (Shahdol), former Gujarat governor Krishna Pal Singh faces 13 challengers. State Law Minister Rajendra Prasad Shukla (Congress) is among six candidates trying their luck in Kota.
The presence of rebels of both the Congress and the BJP in certain places has made the scene more interesting. Among them is former chief minister Virendra Kumar Sakhlecha who quit the BJP and is contesting Javad as an independent.
Derhu Prasad Dhritlahare, a member of Digvijay Singh's Cabinet, is among the 14 contestants in Maro (Durg). He is contesting as an independent after being denied a ticket by the Congress.
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