Arch-rivals BJP and Congress are leaving no stone unturned to win the October 21 Jhabua by-poll in Madhya Pradesh, where BJP' political greenhorn Bhanu Bhuria is set to take on Congress heavyweight Kantilal Bhuria. The Congress, which is currently grappling with infighting in the state unit, had won the Jhabua Assembly seat 10 times, while BJP, its formidable challenger, had emerged victorious on this seat thrice since 1952.
Although the Congress is promising to transform the constituency over the next 15 months, the saffron party is running its campaign by targeting Kantilal Bhuria and his party, saying that they have done nothing significant for the development of the region in the last three decades. The BJP had won the Jhabua seat in last year's state polls and also went on to clinch this Lok Sabha constituency (now called Ratlam LS seat) earlier this year.
BJP's G S Damor, the former chief engineer of Public Health Engineering Department, had defeated Vikrant Bhuria in the state polls held late last year and later also made his father, Kantilal Bhuria, bite the dust in the general elections. After becoming an MP, Damor resigned as a legislator, which necessitated the by-poll in the constituency.
Stakes are high for the Congress, which is at the helm of affairs in the state, as it has fielded five-time MP and former union minister Kantilal Bhuria, 68, from the seat. However, the BJP is making every effort to retain the seat reserved for tribals. It has given candidature to Bhanu Bhuria (36), Jhabua district president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), who is testing electoral waters for the first time.
Although Kalyan Singh Damor, a relative of G S Damor, was also one of the contenders, the BJP sidelined him. Ignored by the party, Kalyan Singh jumped into the fray as a rebel. In the last year's assembly polls, Congress rebel Xavier Meda had garnered a substantial share of 35,943 votes, paving the way for BJP's victory in Jhabua by over 10,000 votes.
The BJP won this seat twice consecutively since 2013, largely benefited by the infighting in Congress. In 2013, Congress rebel candidate Kalavati Bhuria, niece of Kantilal Bhuria, had fought against her party's official candidate Meda, who lost the seat.
However, in order to pay back to Kantilal Bhuria's family in the same coin, Meda rebelled against Congress candidate Vikrant Bhuria and helped the BJP retain the seat in last year's assembly polls. The battle of Jhabua has become a prestige point for Chief Minister Kamal Nath as well as for his predecessor and senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Nath, who visited Jhabua four times in the last 40 days, has promised to turn the constituency into a modern place, equipped with all facilities, in the next 15 months. "What the BJP could not do in its 15 years of rule in MP, we are going to do that in just 15 months," Nath had said.
However, the Congress faction, led by party general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia, seems to be indifferent after Meda was denied ticket. Meda was expelled from the Congress after he rebelled during the last assembly polls, only to be readmitted before the Lok Sabha polls. Nath has asked Meda to lead the campaign.
Kantilal Bhuria is considered a loyalist of Congress leader Digvijay Singh. Nath and Digvijay camps have joined hands to keep Scindia off. In contrast, the BJP has managed to keep a united face. Chouhan and other top BJP leaders in the state accompanied Bhanu Bhuria when he filed the nomination. Chouhan will camp in Jhabua and plans to hold roadshows and meetings between October 15 and 18.
Union ministers from the state- Narendra Tomar, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Faggan Singh Kulsate - are scheduled to visit Jhabua to drum up support for the party, a senior BJP leader said. The Congress is targeting the BJP over the development of Jhabua saying it does not even have a professional medical or engineering college.
MP Congress spokesman Bhupendra Gupta said, "This time we are going to wrest Jhabua seat from the BJP. Kamal Nathji is going to transform Jhabua like Chhindwara, and will provide all the modern amenities in just 15 months." However, MP BJP chief spokesperson Deepak Vijayvargiya said, "Our party is going to retain the Jhabua seat for sure. People want the defeat of Kantilal, who has not done anything for Jhabua in the last 30 years."
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)