Uma, among others, enters poll fray in MP

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Bhopal, Nov 7 (UNI) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan (BJP), his predecessor Uma Bharti (Bharatiya Jan Shakti), Assembly Speaker Ishwardas Rohani (BJP), Congress Campaign Committee President Ajay Singh and former Speaker Shriniwas Tiwari (Cong) are among prominent candidates in the Assembly poll fray in the state as submission of nomination papers drew to a close today.

Mr Chouhan is contesting Budhni, Ms Bharti -- Tikamgarh, Mr Rohani -- Jabalpur Cantonment, Mr Singh -- Churhat and Mr Tiwari -- Sirmour.

All 230 constituencies in the state are going to the hustings in a single phase on November 27, official sources said, adding that a 3,58,88,173 crore-strong electorate was listed to vote from 46,812 polling booths.

More than 1,700 candidates submitted their papers till yesterday and there was heavy rush to submit nomination papers as the 1500 hrs deadline approached.

Both the ruling BJP -- which secured a historic three-fourths majority by bagging 173 seats in 2003 -- and main opposition Congress were plagued by dissidence with several ticket claimants turning rebels following denial of tickets.

The BJP has fielded candidates from all but one constituency, leaving Katni district's Bahoriband to its National Democratic Alliance ally Janata Dal (United). Ms Saroj Bachchan Nayak of JD(U) is the sitting member there.

The Congress declared 227 nominees after leaving three seats to its ally Nationalist Congress Party, while the Uma Bharti-led BJS, Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party and Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party also fielded candidates.

Communist Party of India and its ally the CPI (Marxist), besides the Gondwana Ganatantra Party, Gondwana Mukti Sena, Republican Party of India (Ambedkar), Rashtriya Samanta Dal and Sawarna Samaj Party were also in the arena in select constituencies.

To ward off an anti-incumbency factor, the BJP denied tickets to 61 sitting legislators leaving 103 sitting members in the fray.

Seven parliamentarians and 23 women were also contesting on BJP tickets.

State BJP Treasurer Ramoram Gupta (Satna) and three-time MLA Sudha Jain (Sagar) are among prominent BJP rebels, while former Congress minister Balendu Shukla is in the fight from Gwalior South on a BSP ticket. Another ex-Congress minister Mukesh Nayak is in the fray from Panna district's Pavai on a BJS ticket.

State BJP President Narendra Singh Tomar and his Congress counterpart Suresh Pachouri abstained. State BJS chief Ashok Tripathi (Bioara), State Mahila Congress President Shobha Ojha (Indore-5) and National Students' Union of India state President Rashmi Pawar (Gwalior South) were among the prominent nominees.

Scrutiny will take place tomorrow and November 10 is the last date for withdrawal.

UNI SP AC GL CS1657

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