Indore: Madhya Pradesh minister Jitu Patwari on Thursday took a jibe at Lok Sabha Speaker and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sumitra Mahajan’s age and said that elderly people should not be made to work. Mahajan is 75.
Patwari, the minister of higher education in Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s cabinet, said he was ready to contest from Indore if the Congress was willing to field him. Mahajan has represented the Indore constituency since 1989.
“It’s not our tradition to make ‘taai’ (aunt) work at the age of 78-80,” said Patwari, referring to Mahajan. “If the party offers me the chance, I am ready to contest from Indore.”
The Rau MLA claimed Mahajan had grown old and now needs to rest. He also expressed confidence that Congress would manage to win Indore.
“Taai was Indore’s pride, but making her work now isn’t a part of our tradition,” he added.
The Congress has been working hard to find a suitable candidate to take on an “invincible” Mahajan, but appears to be failing. There was speculation that former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh could make an electoral comeback by taking on the Lok Sabha Speaker.
Jitu Patwari, however, clarified that no one from his family would contest the Lok Sabha elections. There was speculation that his wife was planning to enter politics by fighting from Indore as the Congress candidate.
Congress party’s tightrope walk
While Jitu Patwari may have expressed interest in contesting from Indore, the Congress cannot afford to “invest” a legislator into national politics as the ruling party has 114 MLAs, two short of the majority mark in Madhya Pradesh.
The BJP has 109 MLAs, Independents hold four seats, the Bahujan Samaj Party has two, and the Samajwadi Party has a single MLA in the 230-member House.
Senior BJP leader Satyanarayan has already threatened to contest as an Independent if Mahajan is re-nominated from Indore. The politician, who is also a poet, has claimed that Mahajan’s contribution to the Indore Lok Sabha seat has been restricted to only Railways- and airport-based meetings.
The Congress had gained marginal ground in Indore in the 2018 Assembly polls, managing to win four of the nine seats in the district. In 2013, Patwari had secured a single seat for the Congress, with the BJP winning eight.
However, with BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya shouldering the responsibility of West Bengal, Mahajan is sure to be re-nominated from Indore.