BJP, Cong locked in keen contest in MP's Ratlam-Jhabua seatPTI | Jhabua | Updated: 17-05-2019 00:35 IST | Created: 16-05-2019 23:55 IST
The BJP's Guman Singh Damor, who made a successful electoral debut in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, is locked in a high-stakes battle with Congress MP from Ratlam-Jhabua, Kantilal Bhuria -- also the father of the former's rival last year, Vikrant. After retiring as engineer-in-chief from the public health department, Damor contested from the Jhabua assembly seat on BJP ticket last year and defeated Vikrant with a margin of nearly 10,400 votes.
Now, Damor is challenging Bhuria Senior -- a five-time Congress MP who has lost only one election. Bhuria was defeated by Congress turncoat and BJP candidate Dileep Singh Bhuria in the 2014 general election. However, he wrested the seat from the saffron party in the 2015 bypoll, which was necessitated after Dileep Singh's death.
He defeated the late BJP MP's daughter, Nirmala, with a margin of 88,000 votes. The electoral battle for Ratlam-Jhabua -- a tribal-dominated seat in western Madhya Pradesh which is considered a Congress stronghold, has witnessed a high-pitched poll campaign.
The BJP's star campaigner Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress stalwarts including party president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have addressed rallies in the constituency. Damor exuded confidence that Bhuria will lose this time as people are unhappy with his work.
"Wherever I go, people welcome me with an open heart and they are not at all happy with the sitting MP as he failed to do anything for them despite being a member of the Lok Sabha for 20 years and a Union minister," Damor told PTI. "In this election, people will vote for making Modi the prime minister again and therefore, Bhuria's defeat is certain," he said.
The Congress, on the other hand, is hoping that the minimum income guarantee scheme, announced by Gandhi in March, will help the party retain the seat. "The NYAY scheme (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) announced by party president Rahul Gandhi, which will ensure payment of Rs 6,000 per month and Rs 72,000 per year (to the poorest 20 per cent in the country), will change the lives of the poor people. It will prove to be a game changer for the party," Jhabua district Congress president Nirmal Mehta said.
He also denied Damor's charge that Bhuria had not done anything for the development of his constituency. During the Congress MP's tenure, Navodaya Vidyalayas and Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) were opened and stoppage of a number of trains crossing the nearby Meghnagar station was granted, providing major relief to the people, Mehta said.
The Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha seat comprises eight assembly segments -- Alirajpur, Jobat, Jhabua, Thandla, Petlavad, Ratlam Rural, Ratlam City and Sailana. Of these, the Congress holds Jobat, Alirajpur, Petlawad, Thandla and Sailana, while the remaining three are with the BJP.
Polling in this constituency will be held in the last phase of Lok Sabha elections on May 19.