As people in Madhya Pradesh vote today to elect a new government, several constituencies are witnessing interesting contests.
These are some of the seats are drawing attention all over the state—either because of fight between heavyweights or local factors including the presence of rebel candidates (or colourful personalities) in the fray:
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s pocket borough, Budhni, is especially in focus after Congress decided to field its former state president Arun Yadav.
Budhni is located in Sehore district, adjoining Bhopal. While this is a BJP stronghold and Chouhan has won the constituency with huge margins in the past, Yadav’s entry into the fray has brought more spotlight on Budhni.
Chouhan has secured nearly 60% or more votes in the last three elections here. However, Congress hopes that anti-incumbency would work and the backward castes, especially, Yadav vote would shift in its favour. Party leaders feel that having a prominent face against Chouhan will help. However, the fact remains it is CM’s constituency and hence the BJP leaders are confident of a victory.
It is a big battle in Hoshangabad. Veteran leader and former minister Sartaj Singh quit BJP when he was not given the ticket because of his age.
Singh, 78, who has a strong influence in the region, was readily given ticket by the Congress. Sartaj Singh faces Sitasaran Sharma, who was the speaker in the Assembly. Interestingly, Sharma considers Sartaj as his political guru.
Sartaj Singh had defeated former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Congress stalwart Arjun Singh in the Lok Sabha elections and has been an MP four times. In Assembly elections, he has also won from Seoni-Malwa constituency of the district, twice.
Sitasaran Sharma’s supporters feel that as this seat has a large number of Brahmin voters, he would be able to win. Sharma had won in 2013 by a huge margin. BJP has been quite strong in this region. But Sartaj Singh’s switching sides has suddenly generated interest about the election here.
The contest in Bhojpur has become interesting, as Congress has once again fielded veteran leader Suresh Pachouri against BJP’s Surendra Patwa.
Pachouri is a former union minister, while Patwa is the nephew of former CM Sunderlal Patwa. Earlier, Sunderlal Patwa used to win from Bhojpur, repeatedly. In the last two elections, Surendra Patwa too won with ease.
As Pachouri belongs to the region, his campaign focuses on local versus outsider. Though he had lost to Patwa in the last election, Congress is hoping that anti-incumbency against government and discontent with Patwa, will work this time. As Pachouri has lost Lok Sabha election from Bhopal in the past and hasn’t won Assembly election earlier, his prestige is also at stake. Being a Brahmin, he is likely to get overwhelming support of the community and this can be a deciding factor.
- Bhopal North
Congress’ Arif Aqueel faces BJP’s Fatima Rasool Siddiqui on this seat. It was Congress leader and former MP minister, late Rasool Ahmad Siddiqui who represented the seat in state assembly earlier.
Aqueel had first won from Bhopal North, as an independent candidate in 1990, defeating Siddiqui. This had signaled the end of the political career of Siddiqui. Now, his daughter is in the fray. Aqueel hasn’t lost the seat, except, once (in 1993). BJP had fielded Arif Baig in the last Assembly polls. On this occasion, it hopes that a young face may help it wrest the seat from Congress.
It was a Congress’ coup–getting none other than chief minister’s brother-in-law to leave the BJP and join the Congress. Chouhan’s brother-in-law Sanjay Singh Masani wanted a ticket from this constituency. But, he was denied the ticket.
One of his videos in which was taking names of the villages in the area at a breathtaking speed to stress on the fact that how much he had worked in the constituency, had also gone viral.
Upset, he joined Congress and is now contesting against BJP’s Yogendra Nirmal. During the campaign, another contestant, Gaurav Pardhi, an independent, who belongs to Pawar caste, was getting lot of support.
Subsequently, Shivraj Chouhan almost forcibly took him along and made him withdraw in favour of BJP candidate. But the contest is three-cornered because of BSP that has a committed vote on this seat.
This constituency is located in the Tribal belt of Western Madhya Pradesh. It is the region where Jay Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS), a newly floated outfit that had become popular among tribal youth in recent times, appeared strongest. JAYS’ rallies drew the tribals in large numbers.
But just before elections, JAYS chief, Dr Hira Alawa, joined Congress, leaving many in the outfit, upset. Congress leaders feel that this would fetch them tribal votes, en masse.
Dr Alawa, who was earlier a doctor with AIIMS, Delhi, is contesting on Congress ticket against another well-known face, Ranjana Baghel of BJP, who was MLA and has been a state minister. Baghel’s victory margin in 2013 was just around 1600 votes and hence Congress is hopeful of winning the seat.
- Gwalior South
The contest in Gwalior South seat is triangular. BJP has again fielded Narayan Singh Kushwaha. He had defeated Congress candidates in the previous elections, easily. But the situation is entirely different in 2018.
The biggest problem for BJP is that its own leader–Samiksha Gupta, is contesting as a rebel candidate. Samiksha Gupta was Mayor of Gwalior. A popular face, she appeared to get public support during the campaign.
She reminds people about the works during her tenure as Mayor. This is a big worry for the party. Congress candidate Praveen Pathak hopes that the division of votes would help him.
- Indore 3
This seat may see another ‘son rise’. BJP veteran Kailash Vijayvargiya is not contesting the poll and in his place, he has managed to get a ticket for his son from this constituency. Akash Vijavyvarigya is contesting his first Assembly election.
Akash’s opponent is Congress leader and former MLA Ashwin Joshi. Akash has released a vision document too for the constituency. Ever since his name was announced, there has been discontent from certain sections within the party as well as questions raised over ‘dynasty politics’. In streets, people say that though Akash is the candidate, in reality it is Kailash Vijayvargiya fighting it.
- Raj Nagar
It is a triangular fight in this constituency in Chhatarpur district. Apart from Congress and BJP candidates, senior leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi’s son Nitin is contesting on Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket.
As Satyavrat Chaturvedi openly campaigned for his son, party has now taken action against him. Congress’ Vikram Singh alias Nati Raja is again in the fray. In the last election, Vikram Singh had won the seat. BJP has fielded Arvind Pateria.
- Bhopal South West
BJP’s Umashankar Gupta, who has consistently won the seat, is facing a strong challenge from former MLA and Congress leader PC Sharma. Gupta, who was a minister in Shivraj cabinet, had won the last election easily.
His opponent–PC Sharma, a former MLA, wanted ticket from Bhopal Central. However, Congress has fielded him from this constituency. Sharma is known to be an active leader who is always visible in events and is one of the most visible faces in the city. He has support in slums and is likely to get a major chunk of Brahmin votes. Hence, it appears to be an interesting contest.
Besides, there are some other fights that evoke interest. In Damoh, senior BJP leader and minister Jayant Malaiya is facing a tough fight. Here, former state minister, BJP’s RK Kusmaria is contesting as a rebel candidate, affecting BJP’s chances. Congress has fielded Rahul Lodhi.
In Ater, former leader of opposition Satyadev Katare’s son Hemant Katare who had won the by-poll, is contesting against BJP’s Arvind Bhadoria. Besides former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria’s son Dr Vikrant is contesting from Jhabua.
BJP’s GS Damor and former MLA Xavier Meda are in the fray. In Bhopal Central, BJP’s Surendra Nath Singh, who had won in 2013, faces challenge from Congress’ Arif Masood.
In Bhopal’s Govindpura, former CM Babulal Gaur’s daughter-in-law Krishna Gaur, a former Bhopal Mayor, is contesting against Girish Sharma.
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