Khandwa Lok Sabha: Resurgent Congress poses strong challenge to BJP on this seat
Election, Madhya Pradesh, Politics

Khandwa Lok Sabha: Resurgent Congress poses strong challenge to BJP on this seat

This constituency in Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh is spread over the districts of Khandwa, Burhanpur, Khargone and part of Dewas. Nandkumar Singh Chouhan, the former Madhya Pradesh BJP chief has been elected to Parliament five times from here. However, Chouhan is on a slippery ground here.

The recent Assembly poll results indicate that all is not well for BJP in the constituency that was seen as its stronghold.

Of the eight Assembly constituencies that fall in this Lok Sabha seat, BJP won just three while Congress has won four and one seat went to the independent who now supports Congress government.

The big setback was the loss in Burhanpur where party’s seasoned leader and minister in Shivraj Chouhan’s cabinet, Archana Chitnis, lost to Thakur Surendra Singh ‘Shera’ who had fought as an independent.

This constituency has two major towns, Khandwa and Burhanpur. Both towns of almost equal size suffer from administrative and political neglect.

Burhanpur, which is termed as the Gateway to Deccan, is an important town in the region. However, citizens are upset due to lack of development. Innumerable power looms—the city was known for them, have shut.

Powerful leaders from here, wielded clout in state politics, but couldn’t bring major projects. Similarly, Khandwa that unfortunately got into news more on account of communal tensions in the last decade or so, has a similar story.

Nandkumar Singh Chouhan has been a member of parliament for five terms. He had first won in 1996, when he had defeated Congress’ Shiv Kumar Singh by 94,000 votes.

In the next election in 1998, Chouhan defeated Mahendra Kumar Singh by 45,000 votes. In 1999, Chouhan defeated Tanvant Singh Keet, a prominent Sikh leader of Congress, to become the MP for third term. This time the victory margin was over 1.25 lakh.

In 2004, Chouhan made history by fourth successive win from a seat on BJP ticket by defeating Amit Mandloi, again by over 1 lakh votes. No candidate had won the seat more than twice in the past.

However, in 2009, Congress fielded Arun Yadav, the son of former Congress’ veteran Subhash Yadav. Arun ultimately defeated Nandkumar Singh Chouhan by nearly 49,000 votes.

Arun Yadav became a Union minister in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet. Later, he was also made president of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, and made to contest the recent Assembly poll against Shivraj Singh Chouhan from Budhni.

However, in 2014, Nandkumar Singh Chouhan reclaimed his seat, defeating Arun Yadav, during the Modi wave. The victory margin was over 2.6 lakh.

However, much water has flown down the Narmada since then. In the region, there are signs of resentment within the party, against the five-term MP.

No new industries have come, umpteen factories and mills have closed, unemployment is a major problem, the sound of power looms that was part of life here are silent in the towns now.

In meetings, BJP workers are openly saying that they want a new candidate from here. Archana Chitnis who lost Assembly poll, and whose group feels that it was sabotage, wants the ticket too.

There is lot of resentment against Chouhan’s style of functioning too. The loss to BJP in Assembly poll has forced the party leadership to focus on the situation here.

Khandwa always had a Jan Sangh influence but in the earlier elections, Congress used to win her. In 1957 Congress’ Babulal had defeated Jan Sangh’s Anokhe Lal Shah by 53,000 votes.

In 1962 election, Congress had fielded Mahesh Dutt w ho had defeated Jan Sangh’s Krishna Rao by over 49,000 votes. In 1967, Congress’ Ganga Charan Dixit had defeated Jan Sangh’s Mangilal Bhatt by a margin of just 1,710 votes.

Dixit won for a second time in 1971, when he defeated Jan Sangh’s Virendra Kumar Anand by a margin of over 40,000 votes. In 1977, the Bhartiya Lok Dal candidate had won here—Parmanand Govind had defeated Dixit.

In a bypoll in 1979, BJP veteran Kusha Bhau Thakre had won the seat as Janata Party candidate, defearing Shiv Kumar Singh of Congress. But, in the next year, in 1980, Shiv Kumar Singh had defeated Thakre from this seat.

In 1984 election, Congress’ Kalicharan Sakargaye had defeated Arif Baig. Baig, who is remembered for his speeches in which he used to address the people as ‘mere mulk ke maaliko’, had fought on BJP ticket.

But, in the next election, Sakargaye lost to BJP’s Amrit Lal. In 1991, Congress again won the seat, defeating BJP’s Amrit Lal. However, since 1996, it has been Nandkumar Singh Chouhan who has won repeatedly with the exception of 2009 election.


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The author is a Bhopal-based senior journalist.

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