MP polls: Parties eye snatching family turfs in battle of nerves
With the Madhya Pradesh elections indicating a possible nail-biting finish, arch-rivals BJP and Congress are leaving no stone unturned in their intense campaign to storm the traditional bastions and family pocket-boroughs of each other.
All major 'home seats' are witnessing door-to-door visits by their respective leaders, be it seasoned Congress politicians like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh or the BJP stalwarts like Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Multiple leaders, party workers and common voters told PTI that the big-shots are indulging in unprecedented electioneering in their so-called 'safe seats', leaving nothing to chance for rivals.
"The state is witnessing an intense political battle and the contest is too close to call. While it is not easy for the BJP to manage a comfortable win after 15 years of anti-incumbency, it is a do or die situation for Congress to get back to power," a senior Congress leader said.
"Even bastions are not being spared and both sides are looking to embarrass the opponent and add unexpected seats to their tallies," he added.
Scindia, the Congress MP from Guna-Shivpuri seat, has held over 40 rallies in and around his parliamentary constituency to ensure maximum assembly seats for his party candidates.
"We are hopeful of winning at least six of the eight assembly seats in this parliamentary constituency. These elections are being taken as Scindia's personal election campaign," a close aide of the Congress leader said.
The 47-year-old lawmaker also held a road show for his party candidate in Shivpuri, a bastion of his aunt and BJP minister in the state Yashodhara Raje Scindia.
"While the Scindias never campaign against each other, it was thought to be important that Jyotiraditya campaigns for the Congress so that this BJP turf does not go unchallenged," a Shivpuri-based Congress leader said.
The BJP has also stepped up its offensive here with a number of rallies by top leaders including Chief Minister Chouhan.
In neighbouring Raghogarh, a family fort of former chief minister Digvijay Singh, his 32-year-old son Jaivardhan is the Congress candidate and the BJP has fielded Bhupendra Singh Raghuvanshi who lost the seat by less than 7,000 votes in 2008.
Jaivardhan has been canvassing the area rigorously, visiting 14-15 villages a day. His wife Sreejamya is on a parallel support campaign, besides accompanying her husband to ensure a victory margin above the 58,000 mark of 2013.
"While the BJP is not a favourite for this seat, no chance can be taken as every seat is important," a local leader said.
Senior BJP leader Rambabu Kushwaha said Raghuvanshi is visiting nearly 15 villages every day, asking people to vote to 'change the usual'.
In the nearby Chachauda, the Congress has fielded Digvijay Singh's younger brother Laxman Singh, while the BJP has given ticket to its sitting MLA Mamta Meena to take on the Raghogarh royals.
Acknowledging the BJP's attempt to storm his family fort, Singh said, "They (BJP) have been trying for many years, but Congress has a very good organisation in these areas. We are hopeful of winning all eight assembly seats in Rajgarh," Lakshman Singh said.
Raghogarh and Chachauda are part of the Rajgarh parliamentary seat which at present is held by the BJP.
A senior Congress leader said the state party chief Kamal Nath is concentrating to win all seven seats under his Chhindwara parliamentary constituency as the BJP has "very carefully" given tickets to candidates with strong support at the grass-root level.
The last assembly polls saw the BJP winning four seats and is now eyeing all seven with a campaign-blitz centred around the chief minister, a party leader said.
Nath has won his Lok Sabha seat nine times since 1990 and was only once defeated by former Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa.
The mother of all 'turf' battles is the contest between Chouhan and former state Congress chief Arun Yadav in the chief minister's home seat Budhni.
"The day the Congress declared Yadav as its candidate, it was clear that they are not going to give Chouhan a walkover and are taking the battle right into the home of the man on whose shoulders the entire BJP campaign paraphernalia rests," Rakesh Sharma, a doctor in Piplani village of Budhni said.
"While people may think Yadav is no match to Chouhan, his campaign has created an atmosphere of worry for the chief minister's camp and now his wife and son are in Budhni meeting thousands of people every day," Sharma added.
After filing nomination on November 5, Chouhan had said he will not need to visit his constituency as people will ensure his victory, but BJP leaders admitted that campaign had to be stepped up after Yadav's entry.
In Indore, BJP has fileded vice president Kailash Vijayvargiya's son Akash from a seat. While the area has been a stronghold of Vijayvargiya, the Congress has challenged this bastion by giving ticket to Ashwin Joshi, who won the seat in 2003 when maximum seats went to the BJP.
"Each seat matters this time for the BJP and the Congress. The electoral battle hence has reached the doorsteps of those family forts which if won by the other will not only give a number edge but will also act as a morale booster ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections," a senior bureaucrat in the state secretariat said.
Voting for 230 assembly seats of the state will take place on November 28.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)