November 11, 2023

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Never say never again? Sons of five former CMs in the race in MP | Political Pulse News

4 min read

In the bitter Assembly poll battleground of Madhya Pradesh, former Congress chief ministers Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh have been the recurrent targets of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who accuses the two of trying to establish their sons, so that they can capture the party’s organisation in the state.

They are not alone. Here is a look at sons of five former CMs, across the BJP and Congress, who carry the weight of their father’s reputation in these elections.

Jaivardhan Singh, Congress

The son of Digvijaya Singh, who served as Madhya Pradesh CM from 1993 to 2003, Jaivardhan (37) is a two-time Congress MLA from his father’s stronghold, Raghogarh.

In his 2013 debut, he defeated his nearest rival by over 59,000 votes, the highest among all Congress winners that year. He retained the seat in 2018 by a margin of over 64,000 votes.

He was a minister in the Kamal Nath Cabinet, holding the portfolios of Urban Development and Housing. This year, Jaivardhan and his father have been entrusted with an important role — to help the Congress improve its strike rate in the Gwalior-Chambal region, and to exact revenge against Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose defection to the BJP had brought down the Kamal Nath government in 2020.

Festive offer

Jaivardhan is facing BJP district vice-president Hitendra Singh Bunty, the son of two-time former Congress MLA Mool Singh. Bunty had switched over to the BJP in 2021.

Dhruv Narayan Singh, BJP

The son of Govind Narain Singh, who had served as Madhya Pradesh CM between 1967 and 1969, Dhruv (64) is contesting from the Bhopal Central seat, which he had won in 2008 for the BJP.

Govind Narain Singh, who was originally in the Congress, had launched the Lok Sewak Dal in 1967 over growing differences with the Congress leadership, to become the CM as the head of a coalition that included the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. After his government collapsed in 1969, he returned to the Congress.

Despite his win in 2008, the BJP had dropped Dhruv as a candidate in 2013, after his name cropped up in the case of the murder of RTI activist Shehla Masood, who was shot outside her home in 2011.

In February 2012, the CBI arrested designer Zahida Parvez, 41, alleging that she had hired killers to eliminate Masood over her growing proximity to Dhruv, whom Parvez was allegedly in love with. Dhruv was never prosecuted in the case, in which four people were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In the past, Dhruv has served as the Chairman of the Bhopal Development Authority, from 2003 to 2007. He will be facing incumbent Congress candidate Arif Masood, a popular Muslim leader of Bhopal.

Deepak Joshi, Congress

The son of Kailash Joshi, who was the Madhya Pradesh CM of the Janata Party from 1977 to 1978, Deepak (69) quit the BJP in May 2023 to join the Congress, after being sidelined by the saffron party.

Joshi is contesting from Khategaon, where he is grappling with rebellion by Congress workers, who are angry over a “parachute” and turncoat candidate being fielded. Joshi will be going up against two-time incumbent MLA Ashish Govind Sharma of the BJP.

Joshi entered politics by winning the Bagli Assembly seat in Dewas district in 2003 on a BJP ticket. In 2008 and 2013, he won from Hatpipliya, his hometown. Following his third successive victory, he was inducted into Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Cabinet and remained a minister till 2018, when he lost Hatpiplya to the Congress candidate Manoj Choudhary by 13,519 votes. Choudhary switched over to the BJP with Scindia in 2020 and defeated Joshi again in the bypoll that followed.

Ajay Singh, Congress

Ajay Singh (68) is the son of former Congress CM of Madhya Pradesh Arjun Singh (1980-85), who later became Union HRD minister. He is contesting on a Congress ticket from the Churhat seat in the Vindhya Pradesh region, a BJP bastion, where the ruling party is grappling with rebels.

His father, the scion of the small feudal estate of Churhat, was known as an astute politician who became the CM by pipping stronger contenders. However, his stint was marred by the Bhopal gas tragedy.

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Ajay started his political career in 1985, when he won the Churhat Vidhan Sabha seat in a bypoll, after it was vacated by his father. He retained the seat in 1991, but lost it to the BJP’s Govind Prasad in 1993. He regained the seat in 1998 and served as a minister in Digvijaya Singh’s Cabinet. He won the seat again in 2003, 2008 and 2013, but lost by 6,402 votes to the BJP’s Sharadendu Tiwari in 2018. The two men will face each other again this year.

Omprakash Saklecha, BJP

Omprakash is the son of Virendra Kumar Saklecha, the Janata Party CM from 1978 to 1980. His father had also served as the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in 1962 and as the Deputy CM under Govind Narain Singh.

Omprakash (65) is a four-time sitting BJP MLA from his father’s bastion Jawad. He is also a Cabinet minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, holding the portfolios of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, and Science and Technology. He is going to face Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia’s former lieutenant Samandar Patel, who rejoined the Congress this year. Contesting as an Independent in 2018, Patel had damaged the Congress candidate’s prospects by garnering 33,712 votes, paving the way for Omprakash’s victory.

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