The Khajuraho constituency, which is named after the famous temple town of Madhya Pradesh, is mainly spread over Chhatarpur and Panna districts of Bundelkhand region though it includes part of Katni as well.
This seat has often sent women leaders to Parliament—the most prominent one being Uma Bharti, who was elected to Lok Sabha, four times in a row from Khajuraho.
As this seat borders Uttar Pradesh, both Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have a committed voter here. In fact, BSP has a strong base in most parts of the constituency.
While BJP has always been on a strong wicket in Khajuraho, right now it is looking for a suitable candidate. In the 2014 election, Nagendra Singh had won by a margin of over 2 lakh votes. He had defeated Congress’ Raja Pateria.
As Khajuraho has huge tourism potential, the member of parliament (MP) representing this region can do a lot. However, locals were not happy with Nagendra Singh’s performance. He has faced a lot of opposition.
Singh wasn’t considered accessible in the Lok Sabha constituency. Recently, he contested Assembly election, winning from Nagod, in a tough contest.
Given the composition of Assembly, there is little chance that he would be fielded in the Lok Sabha. In the Assembly election, Congress vote share has increased though it is still behind the BJP.
However, a lot depends on BSP. It has got over 1.25 lakh votes in the Assembly seats that fall under this Parliamentary constituency. In the 2014 election, BJP had worked hard to manage caste equations here.
As far as Congress is concerned, another BJP rebel Ramkrishna Kusmaria who has represented the seat in the past, and who unsuccessfully contested Assembly polls from Damoh and Patharia, is a contender.
Congress’ veteran leader, late Vidyawati Chaturvedi had won the seat in 1980 and 1984. In 1984, she had defeated Uma Bharti. But from 1989, Khajuraho has mostly elected BJP candidates.
In 1989, Uma Bharti had defeated Vidyawati Chaturvedi, the mother of Satyavrat Chaturvedi. Later, in 1991, 1996 and 1998 too, Uma Bharti won from Khajuraho. All these were almost one-sided victories.
Congress won it in 1999 when Satyavrat Chaturvedi defeated BJP’s Akhand Pratap Singh Yadav by 81,000 votes. This was because Uma Bharti had shifted to Bhopal, where she defeated Suresh Pachouri. However, in 2004, BJP reclaimed Khajuraho—RK Kusmaria defeated Satyavrat Chaturvedi by 1.12 lakh votes.
In 2009, BJP’s Jitendra Singh Bundela defeated Congress’ Raja Pateria by around 28,000 votes. Congress again fielded Pateria in 2014 but he lost to Nagendra Singh by 2.45 lakh votes.
As far as the past record is concerned, BJP shouldn’t be worried about their chances at this seat. However, the situation has changed in the last five years. Besides, the party has received a jolt in the recent Assembly election.
Congress’ vote share has increased and it had lost Chandla seat by a small margin. For Congress, the vote share of BSP and SP poses a big problem. In the last Lok Sabha election, candidates of these parties had together got more than 1 lakh votes.
Kusmaria has lost Assembly poll but caste equations can work in his favour, and hence Congress may consider him. He has been a five-term MP—four times from Damoh, once from Khajuraho.
Satyavrat Chaturvedi rebelled after his son was denied ticket in the Assembly election. Besides, Mukesh Naik is another leader who is a serious contender. In the past, as a youth leader, he had influence in the entire region.
That was until he had quit Congress, floated the Ajeya Bharat Party, and then spent years in the wilderness. While BJP is strong here, Congress’ fate will depend on BSP’s candidate and the party’s performance here.