Recent diatribe against ex-chief minister Digvijaya Singh seems to have cost forest minister Umang Singhar, place among the Congress’s 40 star campaigners for the crucial October 21 Jhabua assembly bypoll. All Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalist ministers and MLAs are omitted from list of campaigners or poll managers for crucial bypoll.

The forest minister Singhar, also the three-time sitting MLA from Gandhwani assembly seat of Dhar district hasn’t found a place among the star campaigners of the party for the by-election in the neighbouring Jhabua assembly constituency, where ex-union minister Kantilal Bhuria- considered Digvijaya Singh loyalist – is the ruling Congress candidate.

The long list, includes all senior leaders, including party’s national president Sonia Gandhi, former president Rahul Gandhi, ex-PM Manmohan Singh, MP CM Kamal Nath, ex-CM Digvijaya Singh, ex-union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, ten MP ministers, 11 MP MLAs, besides Congress politicians and legislators from adjoining Gujarat. But nowhere does Singhar’s name figure in the long list, despite being popular among the majority Bheel voters of the tribal dominated assembly seat which the Congress had lost to BJP in 2013 and 2018.

Singhar’s name isn’t only missing from the star campaigners list, but is also not among the nine ministers of Kamal Nath government, who have been delegated work of supervising poll campaigning in the scheduled tribe reserved constituency.

The list of ministers tasked by MP Congress Committee chief Kamal Nath to supervise poll campaigning across the constituency, includes Bala Bachchan, Omkar Singh Markam, Vijay Laxmi Sadho, Kamleshwar Patel, Surendra Singh Baghel, Harsh Yadav, Jaivardhan Singh, Jeetu Patwari and Priyavrat Singh (all either Kamal Nath loyalists or Digvijaya Singh backers), but has no mention of Singhar, who is now being seen close to ex-union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

The local Congress sources in Jhabua claims that omitting Singhar from list of star campaigners or ministers supervising poll campaigning will not help the party’s cause, particularly when Singhar is popular among Bheel tribe voters (particularly youngsters) who form bulk of the electorate in the constituency.

For Singhar, being the nephew of one of the most powerful tribal leaders of the Congress and ex-deputy CM Late Jamuna Devi makes him more popular, particularly as Jamuna Devi won the Jhabua-Ratlam Lok Sabha seat (that includes Jhabua assembly seat) in 1962.

Singhar isn’t the lone minister to have been omitted from the list of star campaigners, as all Scindia loyalist ministers, including Tulsi Silawat (who is from neighbouring Indore), Pradumna Singh Tomar, Imarti Devi, Mahendra Singh Sisodiya, Govind Singh Rajput, Prabhuram Chaudhary and Lakhan Singh Yadav (hailing from Gwalior-Chambal or Bundelkhand region) too haven’t found place in the list.

Also, the 10 MLAs named among star campaigners and the six MLAs named among legislators delegated different works by the MPCC chief in Jhabua assembly constituency, don’t include any Scindia loyalists, despite one Scindia backer MLA Rajyvardhan Singh Dattigaon being the legislator from Badnawar seat in adjoining Dhar district.  

The state Congress media president Shobha Oza said “there is no politics or clash of any lobbies, as strong tribal leaders from Jhabua and adjoining districts as well as Gujarat have been carefully chosen as star campaigners for having maximum impact.”

The opposition BJP, however, termed the development as indicative of how only the Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath lobbies are ruling the roost in state Congress. “Omitting Umang Singhar from list of star campaigners/ministers supervising poll management means its Digvijaya Singh who is calling the shots at the cost of sentiments of tribal population who respect Singhar and her late aunt a lot,” said state BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal.

A few weeks back Singhar had launched a tirade against Singh, dubbing the ex-CM as a blackmailer who was allegedly behind rampant illegal mining and illicit liquor trade in MP. He had also accused Singh of trying to destabilize the Kamal Nath government by establishing self as parallel power centre and running the government from behind the curtains. While Singh had stopped short of reacting to Singhar’s diatribe, he had said that anyone indulging in indiscipline should be dealt sternly by the party. The matter was referred later by Congress national president Sonia Gandhi to the central party disciplinary committee.

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