Retaining the Surkhi Vidhan Sabha constituency would not be an easy job for Scindia-supporter Govind Singh Rajput, a minister in the Shivraj Singh government. He is almost sure to be fielded by the BJP in the impending by-elections in the constituency.
By-polls have been necessitated in Surkhi due to the resignation of Rajput, who had won the seat in the 2018 Assembly polls on a Congress ticket, from the membership of the House. Later he followed Jyotiraditya Scindia into the BJP. Rajput was a minister in the Kamal Nath government from the Scindia ‘quota’ and was inducted into the Shivraj ministry as part of the deal struck by Shrimant with the BJP.
One of the eight assembly constituencies in the Sagar district, Surkhi, had come into being in 1951 and is not known as a bastion of either party. It has returned Congress candidates nine times, backed the BJP four times and elected candidates of other parties on two occasions.
Rajput was elected from Surkhi in 2003, 2008 and 2018. His victory spree was interrupted in 2013 by Parul Sahu, the daughter of a liquor baron, who was fielded by the BJP. In 2018, the BJP did not nominate Parul Sahu and chose to bank on Sudheer Yadav instead. Rajput vanquished Yadav with a comfortable margin of 20,000-plus votes.
The Congress is keen to win Surkhi – and for that matter most of the 24 constituencies that would go to the by-polls – not only to teach a lesson to turncoats like Rajput but also to make a bid to regain power in the state.
The Congress is yet to decide its nominee. However, the names doing the rounds include Suresh Pachouri and Ajay Singh. Local leaders said to be in the race, among others, are Dilip Patel (Janpad president, Jaisinagar), Prahlad Patel (Janpad president, Rahatgarh), Krishna Singh (veteran Congressman and former Janpad President, Jaisingar), Babu Lodhi (Rahatgarh), Lalmia (Rahatgarh) and Pramila Singh Rajput (President, Mahila Congress, Sagar). Political circles are agog with rumours that Parul Sahu may switch over to the Congress and take on Rajput as the party’s nominee.
But the biggest worry for Rajput would not be the Congress candidate but sabotage from within the BJP. Sagar is already chock-a-block with BJP veterans including Gopal Bhargava and Bhupendra Singh.