Come 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections and ruling BJP would have a major problem to solve. Its seniormost MLA and former chief minister Babulal Gaur is adamant on contesting the next state polls.
If Gaur contests, most likely it would be against BJP's wishes. Apparently, following the unwritten age-bar criterion set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had dropped Gaur from his Cabinet in June 2016. In such a situation, there is hardly any chance for Gaur to be fielded again during the 2018 Assembly elections.
But Gaur is hell-bent on contesting. Talking to India Today from Bhopal on phone, the former MP CM said, "Even though I am 86, I am 100 per cent fit. Come what may, I will surely contest the next Assembly elections for the 11th consecutive time to create a record."
Asked what he would do if the party decides not to field him, he said, "Tab dekha jaayega (Will see then)."
The controversial leader evaded when asked whether he would contest as an independent candidate. "Let time come," he said.
ALL ABOUT BABULAL GAUR
Having won 10 consecutive Assembly elections, Gaur is an MLA since 1974 from the same constituency of Govindpuri in Bhopal. With 43 years as an MLA behind him, he has certainly created a record in the State and perhaps also in the country.
He rose from a wage labourer in BHEL to become the chief minister of the state, succeeding Uma Bharati and preceding Shivraj Singh Chouhan in 2004.
Sure of his victory, he claims his name will find an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records.
BJP'S MADHYA PRADESH UNIT REACTS
However, BJP's Madhya Pradesh unit is trying to put up a brave face. State party's chief spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya said such a behavior is unexpected of a senior leader who has always got due affection and importance so far.
"The names of candidates, whether of Assembly or Lok Sabha, are recommended by the State Election Committee and approved by the Central Election Committee. The party considers a candidate's usefulness, winnability, image and other factors such as age," he said.
But Gaur considers himself fit in all respects. He attributes his health to yoga, service to cow and reading the Gita. He claims he is still the most popular leader in his constituency. He says he remains victorious in election after election because he meets the voters instead of his party leaders.
On several occasions, the senior leader has faced tough situations. In 2003, Uma Bharati, as the then chief ministerial candidate, had had his name dropped from the candidates. Gaur met the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and succeeded in getting an Assembly ticket.
After succeeding Uma Bharati as CM in August 2004, he faced stiff opposition her supporters. This forced him to quit and make way for Shivraj Singh Chouhan in November 2005. Gaur preferred to get demoted as a minister than quitting the ministry.