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Road to Power in MP Goes Through Malwa, But Will Rahul Gandhi Be Able to Breach the Saffron Citadel

Rahul will once again start his visit on a religious note by paying obeisance at the famous Mahakal temple in Ujjain, a shrine which is frequented by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan too.

Vivek Trivedi | News18.com

Updated:October 26, 2018, 3:10 PM IST
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Road to Power in MP Goes Through Malwa, But Will Rahul Gandhi Be Able to Breach the Saffron Citadel
File photo of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. (Photo: PTI)
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Ujjain: Often referred to as the ‘corridor to power’ in Madhya Pradesh, the Malwa-Nimar region sends the largest number of MLAs to the Assembly and will play a crucial role in deciding the winner this time too. So it was no surprise that Congress president Rahul Gandhi plans to travel in this region on October 29 and 30 as part of his campaign trail.

Rahul will once again start his visit on a religious note by paying obeisance at the famous Mahakal temple in Ujjain, a shrine which is frequented by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan too.

Sources in Congress have revealed that Rahul will conduct a roadshow in Indore, known to be a BJP stronghold. He will also visit Mhow—the birthplace of Dalit icon Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar—Dhar, Jhabua and Khargone districts.

Malwa-Nimar region is spread across Indore and Ujjain divisions of western Madhya Pradesh. The BJP had nearly swept the region in the Assembly elections held in 2013 by winning 56 out of total 66 seats while the Congress was restricted to 9. The region had also contributed to Congress’ victory, albeit with lesser margin in 1993 (30) and 1998 (42).

As elections approach, the farmers’ unrest that surfaced in 2017 with Mandsaur as its epicenter continues to remain the BJP’s biggest concern.

Rahul is trying to reach out to the farmers and in June said that that the Congress will announce a loan waiver within 10 days of coming to power. He said it while addressing the condolence meet of six farmers who died in a police firing.

A shift in the voters’ mood was also reflected in the civic polls of Mandsaur, when the Congress won all the three bodies. Perhaps this compelled Shivraj to announce a ‘special package for Mandsaur.

The BJP’s most recent setback in Mandsaur was when troubleshooter Gunwant Patidar, who had brokered peace with farmers during the protests in June 2017, resigned from the party, accusing it of farmers’ neglect.

While RSS has a sizeable influence on Malwa, producing prominent names like Kushabhau Thackrey, Sunderlal Patwa, Kailash Joshi and Virendra Saklecha; the tribals areas of Dhar, Jhabua, Alirajpur and Ratlam have largely remained Congress strongholds.

However, the emergence of the tribal outfit Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) in Malwa-Nimar region is a cause of concern for the Congress and so it is trying to stitch an alliance with the tribal party. Besides, the Congress is also banking on tribal leader Kantilal Bhuria to keep the tribal votebank intact.

There are also speculations that in order to seal the victory in Malwa-Nimar region, the Congress could ask Jyotiraditya Scindia to contest from a seat in Malwa region. Scindias, whose erstwhile princely state extended to this region, enjoy sizable sway in this part of the state.

| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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