Bhopal: With the 2019 Lok Sabha polls announced, the parties are busy trying to outwit each other. One such attempt is being made by the BJP in the state where it is trying to breach the Congress citadel of Guna and Chhindwara.
Taking their ambition even further, the BJP is also planning to hand the Congress a defeat by winning the Jhabua-Ratlam seat. The Congress’s Kantilal Bhuria won the seat in a by-poll in 2015.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Modi wave had reduced the grand old party to just two seats in the state: Guna and Chhindwara.
Only Kamal Nath, who is now the CM of the state, and Jyotiraditya Scindia, recently made party general secretary in charge of western UP, managed to hold on to Chhindwara and Guna, respectively.
BJP chief Amit Shah brought the focus back on these two seats during a rally last year when he exhorted the party cadre to win these seats back from the Congress.
More recently, Shah offered the slogan of winning all the 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state during his election rally at Sagar.
A look at electoral history of Guna-Shivpuri indicates that the region has always remained under the sway of Scindias, the erstwhile rulers who have undisputed loyalty and reverence in the Gwalior-Chambal region.
In last 50 years or so, it was only once in 1984 that someone from outside the Scindia family was fielded and won the poll.
The seat has remained under Scindias since 1957. In all, Vijaya Raje won the seat six times and his son and late union minister Madhav Rao Scindia emerged victorious on four occasions. Jyotiraditya Scindia, who won the seat on last four occasions, is all set to present his challenge once again in these elections.
The BJP is scouting for a suitable candidate to challenge Scindia.
“The reverence and loyalty for Scindias is deeply etched into the minds of locals which makes Guna a fortress of the erstwhile rulers,” said a Gwalior native who has been associated with the family for years.
The situation is much the same at Chhindwara, which has remained under the shadow of MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath since 1980.
Nath has been invincible in the last three decades.
It was only once in 1996 when he was denied by the Congress, and it was his wife Alka Nath who won that year. She, however, resigned next year to pave way for Nath’s re-nomination.
The former union minister’s maiden loss came in 1997 when late BJP leader and the ex-CM Sunderlal Patwa defeated him in a by-poll.
As Nath plans to make his assembly debut by contesting a by-poll from Chhindwara, his son Nakul to be fielded for the Lok Sabha poll.
The BJP is on the look out for a strong candidate.
The BJP’s scheme of things does not look very bright as the Congress had swept all the seven Assembly seats in Chhindwara in the 2018 Assembly polls. The result was in sharp contrast to the 2013 outcome when the BJP had won four out of seven seats.
Affirming the BJP’s plans to wrest Guna and Chhindwara seats this time, party spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal said the party was confident of winning Guna, Shivpuri and Jhabua-Ratlam seats. Please wait and watch what kind of strategies we plan and execute, he added.