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|November 20, 1998||
BJP rebel Saklecha's entry queers the pitch in Jawad, MP
Former chief minister and BJP rebel Virendra Saklecha may queer the pitch for the official party nominee in Jawad constituency in the opium growing belt of Madhya Pradesh.
Saklecha jumped into the fray as an independent after he was denied a BJP ticket. Pitted in a four-cornered contest, he faces a stiff challenge from sitting BJP legislator Ramlal Patidar, Ghanshyam Patidar (Congress) and Ram Kunwar Badodia of the Janata Dal.
There were rumours that Saklecha was to contest on a Samajwadi Party ticket, but he reportedly declined the offer.
Saklecha, who has stood from this seat seven times earlier, had won it four times. He had scored a hat-trick in 1957, 1962 and 1967 on the Jan Sangh ticket. In 1977 he won the seat as a Janata Dal nominee. He became chief minister during the Janata regime after Emergency.
Ghanshyam is in the field for the third time.
A total of 199 poll centres have been opened for the 1,62,000-strong electorate in the constituency.
This is the second time Saklecha had quit the party after being denied a party ticket. In 1985 he had founded the Madhya Pradesh Janata Party and had contested as an independent candidate. He, however, could not win that election.
After returning to the BJP, he tried his luck in the 1996 Lok Sabha election from the Satna seat but was trounced by the Bahujan Samaj Party nominee.
In 1993, Congress nominee Ghanshyam Patidar had defeated the BJP candidate Ramlal Patidar by a slender margin of 1225 votes. However, the BJP had established a lead over other parties in the 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections.
A correpondent who visited this segment recently observed that a large number of local BJP workers were engaged in campaigning for Saklecha. The party has taken disciplinary action against some of them.
The Congress, on the other hand, was highlighting the positive work done by the party for the constituency.
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