BHOPAL: The upcoming by-election to Garoth seat in Mandsaur district is crucial for Congress which is struggling hard to revive its fortunes in Madhya Pradesh after suffering successive defeats in Assembly, Lok Sabha and local bodies polls since 2003.
The bypoll, scheduled to held on June 27, was necessitated following the death of BJP MLA Rajesh Yadav.
Though Congress tried to corner ruling BJP by targeting Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in one of the biggest admission-cum-recruitment scam, popularly known as 'VYAPAM,' the move so far has failed to pay any political dividend to the Opposition party even in the civic elections that were held after the scam was exposed in 2013.
Taking no chances, Congress relied on its former Minister Subhash Sojatia, a close ally of Congress General Secretary and ex-Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, to take on the BJP.
Earlier, Sojatia won the polls from this seat four times - 1985, 1993, 1998 and 2008.
The victory in 2008 was crucial as Congress won the seat despite Chouhan proving his political mettle for the first time after becoming Chief Minister in 2005.
"Our position is strong in this bypoll and we are confident of winning this election as people of the state are totally fed up with the ruling BJP. The change of power in the state will begin from Garoth," Madhya Pradesh Pradesh Congress Committee chief Arun Yadav told PTI.
"Farmers were not being paid compensation in Mandsaur district for long for damage to their soybean and orange crops because of unseasonal rains. Chouhan is just shedding crocodile tears for them," he alleged.
On the other hand, BJP which has lost the Bahoriband bypoll to Congress despite fielding Pranav Pandey, son of sitting MLA Prabhat Pandey whose death necessitated the by-election in August 2014 is not taking any chances this time.
The seat was won by Congress' Saurabh Singh by a margin of nearly 8,000 votes as the party was then unable to cash on the sympathy votes.
The BJP has decided to field a kisan leader and RSS functionary, Chander Singh Sisodia by denying a ticket to the wife of former MLA, Rajesh Yadav.
Madhya Pradesh BJP President and Khandwa MP, Nandkumar Singh Chouhan said "BJP is contesting this bypoll on the achievements and credibility of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister
Shivraj Singh Chouhan's government and we are totally confident of winning this election."
Traditionally, the contest in Garoth is between Congress and BJP only, but this time, a total of eight candidates are in the fray.
Taking the by-election seriously, State Congress President is camping in Garoth since last four days while ruling BJP has fielded Nandkumar Chouhan and its Organisation General Secretary, Arvind Menon, who too are staying in the area to monitor day-to-day campaigning.
MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan will hold 12 meetings in the constituency from June 21-24 and also conduct a road show to reach out to voters.
Union Minister for Steel and Mines Narendra Singh Tomar has started campaigning in the area.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh, former Union Ministers Namo Narayan Meena and Kamal Nath, Rajasthan State Congress President Sachin Pilot among others will campaign in
the constituency to revive Congress' fortunes.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has allocated four companies of CRPF for peaceful conduct of by-election. Two companies of state police have already been deployed in the constituency which is close to Rajasthan border.