BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath will contest his first assembly by-elections in the central Indian state from Chhindwara Vidhan Sabha seat – which is one of the seven assembly segments forming the Chhindwara Lok Sabha constituency represented by Nath nine times between 1980 and 2014.
Importantly, the only other time Kamal Nath contested a by-election in his nearly four decades political career was in 1997 Lok Sabha bypoll from pocket borough Chhindwara seat, which he lost to BJP veteran and ex-CM Sunder Lal Patwa. A year later in 1998, Nath wrested the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat by defeating Patwa.
Sitting Congress MLA and former MP minister Deepak Saxena – a close confidant of the CM – quit the State Assembly membership on Wednesday (the penultimate day of the ongoing budget session) in Bhopal to pave the passage for Nath contesting the by-election to become a member of the Vidhan Sabha.
Confirming the development to The New Indian Express, Saxena, the four-time MLA from Chhindwara seat Saxena also confirmed that the seat has been vacated by him to enable the CM to contest the by-poll from the seat.
Saxena who was a minister in the erstwhile Congress government led by Digvijaya Singh in the state has won from Chhindwara assembly seat in 1993, 1998, 2008 and 2018.
Seven assembly segments, including Churai, Amarwara, Parasiya, Pandhurna, Junnardeo, Saunsar and Chhindwara form the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat, which has been won by Kamal Nath in 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991,1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. Nath’s wife Alka Nath had won the same Lok Sabha seat in 1996, but vacated the seat later necessitating a Lok Sabha by-election in 1997 which Kamal Nath lost (only time he lost an electoral battle) to ex-MP CM and BJP stalwart Sunder Lal Patwa.
Out of the seven assembly segments forming Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat, only three, including Saunsar, Churai and Chhindwara are general seats. Speculations have been rife about the possibility of Nath contesting from either Saunsar or Chhindwara seats to make his Vidhan Sabha debut at the age of 72, but with Saxena quitting from Chhindwara, it’s now a certainty that the CM will contest by-election from Chhindwara assembly seat.
The CM’s elder son Nakul Nath is being tipped as the frontrunner for being fielded as Congress candidate from Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat in next general elections. The by-poll to Chhindwara assembly seat is likely to be held along with the general elections only in the coming months.