As assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh approach, the exodus of senior leaders from the ruling BJP to the opposition Congress continues.
In perhaps the first major shock to the ruling party in the tribal-dominated Mahakoshal region, former BJP MP from Balaghat Lok Sabha constituency Bodhasingh Bhagat joined the Congress in Bhopal on Wednesday.
Bhagat, who had won from Balaghat constituency in the 2014 elections, had earlier won from Bailam assembly constituency in this district. He said that he had come to this decision after being tired of Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s anti-people policies. In addition, he explained that we have come to the decision to join the Congress in the background of the dominance of Gaurishankar Bisen, who was elected from this constituency seven times on the BJP ticket. Bisan is the sitting minister of Madhya Pradesh, there is a long-standing rivalry between Bisan and Bhagat in Balaghat district.
Notably, the long-standing feud between Bisen and Bhagat is well-known in Balaghat district. Bhagat, who had won from Balaghat constituency in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as an independent from the same constituency and finished fourth with over 47,000 votes after being denied a ticket by the BJP. Former minister Dhal Singh Bisen won this seat for BJP.
According to political analysts in Maoist-hit Balaghat district, incumbent MP Minister Gourishankar Bisen was behind the denial of a ticket to sitting MP Bodhasingh Bhagat in 2019.
A few weeks ago, Bhagat was the frontrunner for a BJP ticket from Katangi Assembly constituency in Balaghat district, but Bisen is believed to have lobbied against Bhagat’s fate, due to which the former BJP MP joined the Congress on Tuesday.
Bhagat is now the frontrunner for Congress ticket from Katangi constituency in Balghatta district. Both Bhagat and his mate Nair, MP minister Gaurishankar Bisen, are from the same OBC Pawar caste, which has 30-40% votes in four of the six assembly constituencies in Balaghat district.
Bhagat is the second former BJP MP to join the Congress in a state that is facing elections within five months. Earlier, in April, another former BJP MP Makhansingh Solanki (whose nephew Sumer Solanki is currently BJP’s Rajya Sabha member) joined the Congress. Solanki had won the South West MP Khargone-ST seat in 2009.
But not only the former BJP MP from Balaghat joined the Congress in Bhopal on Wednesday, many BJP leaders, including two leaders from CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Assembly constituency Budhni (Sehore), also joined the main opposition party.
The two leaders include Sumit Chaubey and Rajesh Patel.