Madhya Pradesh to see final poll hurrah
The seat is Vidisha, from where Sushma Swaraj, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha is contesting. In the 2009 election, she had won by a margin of nearly three lakh votes. This was largely due to the fact that Rajkumar Patel, the Congress nominee, failed to complete the formalities before the time for filing of nominations expired. Patel was punished by the Congress because it was suspected that he deliberately did so in order to oblige Swaraj. Patel was expelled from the Congress. After a lapse of five years, a few days back, he was re-admitted into the party. This time, Swaraj is being opposed by Laxman Singh, younger brother of Digvijaya Singh. Laxman Singh had quit the Congress some six years back to join the BJP. The BJP sponsored him for the Lok Sabha from Rajgarh constituency but he lost. Now, he has rejoined the Congress and has been asked to challenge Sushma Swaraj. During the last five years, Sushma Swaraj has nursed the constituency with great devotion. Almost every month, she used to visit the constituency. Therefore, there is little doubt that she will win the polls. With remarkable confidence, during her whirlwind tours of the constituency, she is appealing to the voters to ensure her victory with bigger margin.
Vidisha constituency has a colourful history. Since the first general elections, barring two or three exceptions, it has been represented by leaders who were not resident of the state. Vidisha had returned Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It also sent Ram Nath Goeka, the owner of The Indian Express, to the Lok Sabha. But after his election, Goenka did not care to visit the constituency again and mostly declined to meet any voter, if he dared to visit him in New Delhi. Shivraj Singh Chauhan was representing Vidisha till the time he became the chief minister. The other important and prestigious seat which goes to polls on 24 April is Khandwa from where Arun Yadav, president of the Madhya Pradesh Congress is seeking re-election. Yadav was named PCC President after the 2013 Vidhan Sabha elections in which Congress fared very badly. Arun Yadav is the son of late Subhash Yadav, who was deputy chief minister of the State during the regime of Arjun Singh. Arun was also a Member of Parliament for two terms. Arun Yadav is being opposed by Alok Agrawal, a social activist, who has been sponsored by the Aam Aadmi Party. Alok Agrawal is a prominent leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. A substantial area of the Khandwa constituency forms part of the area that has been already submerged or is likely to be submerged, due to the dams being constructed on Narmada. Alok Agrawal has been championing the cause of the oustees whose homes and land have been submerged or are likely to be submerged. He evolved a unique way of registering protest when he asked the affected people to stand for days together in the Narmada, described as ‘Jal Satyagraha’. The outcome of the poll will show whether the people will vote for a person who stood by them and sacrificed everything to serve their cause. Besides Alok Agrawal, Yadav is facing a BJP candidate also.
The other important constituencies are Indore, Ratlam and Mandsaur. Indore, the most populated and the biggest income tax payer constituency in the State, is being represented by Sumitra Mahajan. She has been representing this constituency for more three decades. Since 1967 Indore was represented by P C Sethi who was very close to Indira Gandhi. There was time when Indore elected Homi Daji, legendary communist party of India leader. In 1962 he had contested the election as literally people’s candidate Sumitra Mahajan, who is popularly known Sumitra Tai, is extremely popular because of her humble behaviour and her accessibility to commoners. She does not face serious challenge from the Congress but from her own partymen, led by Kailash Vijayvargiya, a powerful minister. In the last election Vijayvargiya tried his best to defeat her but failed. Sumitra Mahajan is Maharashtrian and therefore she enjoys overwhelming support of the Marathi-speaking residents of Indore.
Kantilal Bhuria, who was chief of the Madhya Pradesh Congress during last November Vidhan Sabha elections is contesting from Ratlam. Bhuria has been a member of the Manmohan Singh Ministry. Bhuria represents the Ratlam constituency, reserved for scheduled tribes. Kantilal Bhuria is being opposed by BJP candidate Dilip Singh Bhuria, who in the past, had represented Ratlam in the Lok Sabha as Congress nominee. He later deserted the Congress and jointed BJP which awarded him with the chairmanship of the National Commission for scheduled Tribes. Observers predict that it is going to be a neck and neck fight in Ratlam. Another interesting contest is in Mandsaur, from where Meenakshi Natarajan is seeking re-election. Mandsaur has been a BJP citadel since 1957. Like Vidisha, Mandsaur has also been sending BJP and earlier Jana Sangh candidates to the Lok Sabha. But L N Pande was the first local candidate who was sponsored by the BJS – and later the BJP too continued to field him. But in 2009, Natarajan demolished the BJP stronghold.
She has also nursed the constituency with great fervour. Natarajan is one of the important confidants of Rahul Gandhi. Despite that Rahul Gandhi asked Natarajan to prove her acceptability to the party workers through US type primaries. She got thumping support and finally Congress adopted her as its candidate. It is difficult to predict whom the opium growers are going to back. IPA