This time the elections in Madhya Pradesh seem to be interesting. In some assembly seats of the state, electoral battles can be seen between members of the same family with different political backgrounds. The ruling BJP and the opposition Congress have pitted them against each other in the quest for power by giving tickets to their relatives. In the elections to be held on November 17 for 230 assembly seats of the state, brothers, uncle-nephew, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, Samadhi etc. near and distant relatives have stood face to face. Former Assembly Speaker and BJP candidate from Narmadapuram Sitasharan Sharma is facing his brother Girijashankar Sharma, who is the Congress candidate.
Former BJP MLA Girijashankar Sharma recently changed his party and joined Congress after being denied a ticket by the ruling party. Congress’s Nidhi Sunil Jain is contesting against her brother-in-law and sitting BJP MLA Shailendra Jain in Sagar assembly seat. Nidhi Jain is the younger brother of Shailendra Jain and wife of former Congress MLA from Deori, Sunil Jain. Similarly, in Devtalab of Rewa district, Congress has fielded Padmesh Gautam against BJP MLA and current Assembly Speaker Girish Gautam, Girish Gautam is Padmesh’s uncle. Padmesh Gautam had earlier defeated Rahul Gautam, son of the sitting MLA, in the Panchayat elections.
In another inter-family election battle, sitting BJP MLA and party candidate Sanjay Shah is contesting against his nephew Abhijit Shah of Congress in Timarni in Harda district. Abhijeet Shah is contesting against his uncle for the second time. In Dabra of Gwalior district, former BJP Minister of State Imarti Devi is contesting against her relative and sitting Congress MLA Suresh Raje. BJP sources said that Imarti Devi’s niece is married into Raje’s family. When asked about fielding relatives against each other on these seats, state BJP spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi told PTI, Madhya Pradesh is a family for the BJP. Party workers are part of this family. The party decides whether to field a suitable worker. Chaturvedi said Congress is a dynastic party where all major decisions are taken by a family while BJP is a cadre-based organisation.
When asked about the election fight between relatives versus relatives, Madhya Pradesh Congress Media Department President KK Mishra called it a mere coincidence. Mishra said, people with different ideologies can live under one roof and this is the beauty of democracy. So this coincidence can also happen in the election field. He said that despite political and ideological differences, the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam (the world is one family) should be maintained among the contestants.
Senior journalist and political expert Anand Pandey said that this is not a fight of ideologies, but a fight for power and position. He said that politics is going in a new direction. Both the Sharma brothers (Sitasharan and Girijashankar) are contesting against each other in Narmadapuram, were BJP MLAs and one of them is now contesting from the other party as he has not been given a ticket. He said that similarly in Sagar, Timarni and Devtalab also close family members are fighting against each other. Pandey said, this is the first time on such a large scale in the state that brothers and close relatives have put politics and power games above their relationships.
Pandey said that earlier members of the same family used to be in different parties, but direct fight between them for entry into the assembly was rare. Voting will be held in Madhya Pradesh in one phase on November 17 and counting of votes will take place on December 3.