Millennium Post

No tables to be turned in Madhya Pradesh

Among the key candidates whose political fate will be decided on April 17 – the day on which ten constituencies in Madhya Pradesh go to polls - are state BJP President Narendra Singh Tomar (Gwalior) and Union Minister of State Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna).

In Guna and the neigbouring Gwalior— close to the MP-UP border---discussion is simply not allowed on whether a Scindia will emerge victorious in the elections or not. His margin of victory is the only issue you can talk about.

No Scindia has, till date, lost from either Guna or Gwalior.  ‘Srimant Maharaja Jyotiraditya Scindia’ is contesting as a Congress candidate from Guna.  He is the third generation Scindia to contest from here and his victory will be the fourteenth victory of a Scindia from Guna. He faces BJP’s Jaibhan Singh Pavaiya – a former Bajrang Dal chief.

In the 2009 elections, Jyotiraditya’s ‘Bua’ Yashodhararaje Scindia had won from Gwalior, clocking the eighth Scindia victory from the constituency. Guna is being represented by the Scindias since the first General Election in 1957. Of the sixteen elections (including two by-polls) in the constituency since then, in only three, a non-Scindia was elected. And on all the three occasions, not only no Scindia was in the fray but also the victors enjoyed the backing of the ‘Mahal’. Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia was elected from Guna six times, Madhavrao Scindia four times and Jyotiraditya, thrice. Ditto Gwalior, from where Rajmata was elected once Yashodhararaje twice and Madhavrao Scindia five times.

The key problem with the BJP is that having fielded the Rajmata from Guna for decades, it cannot now talk of feudalism, slavish mentality et al, the usual weapons for attacking former rulers against Jyotiraditya.

As for the Scindias themselves, they have always taken the stand that they would not campaign against each other. The Rajmata never canvassed in favour of the BJP when Madhavrao was in the fray from the Congress and the son returned the compliment. Similarly, Yashodhararaje is keeping away from Guna despite immense pressure of her party.

Yashodhararaje has entered the state politics and is a Minister in the Shivraj government. The state BJP President Narendra Singh Tomar is contesting from Gwalior this time. It is said that he was finding his position shaky in Morena – from where he was returned in the 2009 polls – and hence decided to shift to Gwalior.  His key rival is Ashok Singh, who had lost the last polls to Yashodhararaje Scindia with a rather narrow margin of 27,000 votes. Tomar is mainly banking on the ‘Modi wave’.

Of the other two seats in the Gwalior-Chambal area, in Bhind, former civil servant Dr Bhagirath Prasad is trying his luck as a BJP candidate. He had contested the last polls unsuccessfully from the same constituency, though as a Congress candidate. This time also the Congress had decided to field him. However, a day after the announcement of his candidature, he crossed over to the BJP, which obliged him with a ticket.

The Rajgarh Lok Sabha constituency–stretching for almost 200 kms along the Agra-Mumbai national highway–had witnessed a bitter battle between brothers in 2009.

AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh’s nominee Narayan Singh Amlabe was face to face with Digvijay Singh’s younger brother Laxman Singh, who was seeking re-election as a BJP candidate. ‘For me, ideology is more important than blood relations. I will see to it that Laxman is defeated’, Diggi Raja had said. And he kept his word. Amlabe won and is in the fray again. Rajgarh has returned Digvijay Singh twice and Laxman Singh five times (including in a bye-poll). It is a Congress stronghold. The BJP has won from Rajgarh only once since 1991. The road to victory for Amlabe thus, does not appear to be uphill, unless, of course, the talk of the Modi wave has some basis.
The neighbouring Bhopal, however, is a different cup of tea. The last time the Congress won from Bhopal was thirty years back – in 1984 - when KN Pradhan of the party had vanquished BJP’s Laxmi Narayan Sharma by a margin of 1.28 lakh votes. Since, then, only defeats have come the Congress way.

The constituency, comprising a large number of serving and retired government officials and the biggest body of Muslims in the state, has been backing the BJP with a vengeance since 1989. How safe Bhopal is considered for the BJP is evident by the fact that in the 1999 elections, it was identified by the party for the possible candidature of the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, i.e. in addition to Lucknow.  This time too, Bhopal was BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani’s first choice for his candidature.  PA
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