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In what is perceived as a snub to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) PM candidate, Narendra Modi, three mysterious hoardings came up in Bhopal Wednesday, welcoming L K Advani to contest from this constituency. They were seemingly authorised by the party's district unit, though no one is spelling out who actually put them up and at whose instructions they were removed around noon. State leaders did not disown them either, attributing the message to workers’ wishes.
Coming after sitting MP Kailash Joshi’s invitation to Advani, Wednesday’s “message” fuelled conspiracy theories about the rivalry between Narendra Modi and Advani, the latter’s newfound love for Bhopal, his closeness to Shivraj Singh Chouhan whose achievements he rates higher than Modi’s — besides local rivalries.
Bhopal district chief Alok Sharma is a contender for the seat and so was Joshi till very recently, besides mayor Krishna Gaur. Joshi, who in 2009 had refused to vacate the seat for Sushma Swaraj saying he was no football, went into a sulk after Advani’s candidature was announced from Gandhinagar because he had vacated the seat for him. Until last week, Joshi had dug his heels in before he was persuaded to retire gracefully.
Former chief minister Babulal Gaur, Krishna’s father-in-law, maintained he was confident about her candidature because Advani would contest only from Gandhinagar. There was talk that the display of posters was a result of rivalry among local contenders bent on scuttling one another’s chances.
TV channels fuelled some of the gossip by announcing the posters had come up across the city when, in fact, there were only three — Roshanpura Square, Lal Parade Ground and Moti Masjid.
In the end, the interest in the seat remained unrequited because the party chose not to announce a candidate.
The BJP has held Bhopal for two-and-a-half decades. This was one reason why Sushma had wanted to contest from here in 2009.