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Royal intrigue in rural Sidhi

April 21, 2009
Union Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh is angry and hurt that the Congress party denied his children Ajay and Veena Singh Lok Sabha seats. While Ajay, a former Madhya Pradesh minister, accepted the decision, Veena has entered the fray as an Independent. Krishnakumar P and photographer Uday Kuckian report on the rebellion from Sidhi in Madhya Pradesh.

Back in 1957, a 27-year-old Independent candidate won his first term in the Madhya Pradesh assembly from Sidhi. Fifty-two years later, another Independent candidate is contesting from the same region. The former is Arjun Singh. The latter is his daughter, Veena Singh. Arjun, who contested that election as an Independent because Jawaharlal Nehru expelled his father from the Congress party in 1952, has since had a long career in the Congress party. Veena is trying to repeat history.

"When the Congress party denied tickets to both Dausaheb's children, I could not bear the pain caused by the decision. So I decided to contest the election as an Independent. This is not the way a senior person is rewarded for 52 years of service to the party," 56-year-old Veena Singh tells her rallies, which draw considerable crowds.

She had wanted to contest the Lok Sabha seat from either Sidhi or Satna, neighbouring districts in eastern Madhya Pradesh, both of which have a considerable following for both Arjun Singh and his son Ajay, known as Rahulbhaiyya.

Veena who is close to her father, is quite the unexpected candidate. She is attempting to get around the lack of the familiar with the "I was born here, I became a bahu here (Her in-laws are from the neighbouring newly formed district of Singrauli) and I became a mother here, so please help me become an MP from here" routine at her rallies.

Her brother and father meanwhile are campaigning for the Congress nominee, Inderjith Patel, an Arjun Singh loyalist.

Image: Veena Singh campaigns in Sidhi.

Also watch: Veena Singh on why she is contesting the election | Coverage: India Votes 2009

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