BJP faces tough test in its tribal stronghold of MP

If the Congress fights Ratlam-ST, Khargone-ST and Dhar-ST seats unitedly on Monday, a stunner for the BJP cannot be ruled out on June 4.
Image of BJP Flags used for representational purposes only
Image of BJP Flags used for representational purposes onlyFile Photo | PTI

BHOPAL: Stage is all set for the fourth and final phase of Lok Sabha polls in Madhya Pradesh, when eight seats of the Malwa-Nimar region (western and south-western MP) will vote on Monday. While the ruling BJP appears strong on most seats of the region – which since long has been considered a saffron stronghold – three tribal reserved seats, Ratlam-ST, Dhar-ST and Khargone-ST (all three neighbouring seats) may throw keen contests between the two prime contenders, ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.

Total 74 candidates, including 69 male and 5 female are in fray on the eight seats, which also include Indore (housing maximum 25.26 lakh voters, communally sensitive Khandwa, predominantly agrarian Mandsaur, MP CM Dr Mohan Yadav’s home district seat Ujjain-SC and adjoining Dewas-SC seat).

Among these eight seats, BJP has fielded its sitting MPs on six seats (Indore, Mandsaur, Dewas-SC, Ujjain-SC, Khargone-ST and Khandwa), while 2014 winner Savitri Thakur is the party candidate from Dhar-ST seat and MP minister Nagarsingh Chouhan’s district panchayat head wife Anita Nagarsingh Chouhan has been fielded against five times former winner and ex-union minister Kantilal Bhuria in Ratlam-ST seat.

According to Animesh Jain and Chandrabhan Singh Bhadauria, two senior journalists of the region, “The main contest between Congress and BJP will be in Ratlam-ST, Khargone-ST and Dhar-ST seats. If the Congress fights these three seats unitedly on Monday, a stunner for the BJP cannot be ruled out on June 4.”

While Ratlam-ST seat is the most hotly contested seat in this phase, in the adjoining Dhar-ST seat, first time Congress candidate Radheyshyam Muvel (who is considered close to party’s top leadership as well as state’s leader of opposition Umang Singhar) is taking on 2014 winner Savitri Thakur, who had defeated Singhar ten years back from the same seat by over one lakh votes. According to informed sources in Dhar, if all prominent Congress leaders of Dhar, including ex-minister Surendra Singh Baghel and second-time MLA Dr Hiralal Alawa unitedly back the Congress candidate, the contest could be very close.

The BJP on the other hand is eyeing to cement its position on the seat through big leads from urban Dhar and Mhow assembly segments and is hoping for consolidation of Hindu votes in both these segments on the issue of ongoing High Court-ordered ASI survey at the disputed Bhojshala-Kamal Maula Mosque in Dhar city.

The most interesting seat among all the eight seats, however, could be Indore (country’s cleanest city and MP’s biggest LS seat), where after the withdrawal of papers by Congress candidate on April 29, the sitting BJP MP Shankar Lalwani will be taking on NOTA (the Congress’s undeclared candidate). In 2019 polls, Indore seat was won by Lalwani by a massive 5.47 lakh votes, but with no Congress or any other INDI bloc candidate this time, it remains to be seen if turnout will rise or decline sharply.

All eyes on Indore

The most interesting seat among all the eight seats, however, could be Indore, where after the withdrawal of papers by the Congress candidate on April 29, the sitting BJP MP Shankar Lalwani will be taking on NOTA (the Congress’s undeclared candidate). In 2019 polls, the seat was won by Lalwani, but with no Congress this time, it remains to be seen if voter turnout will rise or decline

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