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Why BJP is Losing Ground in Saffron Citadel Indore After Winning 8 of 9 Seats Just Five Years Ago

Among other factors, years of political bitterness between BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has shaped the internal dynamics of the ruling party when it came to ticket distribution.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:November 24, 2018, 4:55 PM IST
Why BJP is Losing Ground in Saffron Citadel Indore After Winning 8 of 9 Seats Just Five Years Ago
Representative image (PTI)

Indore: The saffron stronghold of Indore, where the BJP had won eight out of nine seats five years ago, seems headed for a close contest this time around.

With Malwa region being the nursery of RSS, BJP had gone from strength to strength in the commercial capital of the state in the last 15 years. When the saffron party had swept to power in 2003, it had won six out seats while Congress took two seats.

However, the contest turned to an even battle in 2008 as the BJP won five seats while the Congress ended up with four.

A divided Congress had fallen apart in 2013 as the BJP almost swept the polls in the city, winning eight seats. Congress’ Jitu Patwari was the lone winner from Congress from Rau.

This time, however, the tables have turned as it is the BJP which is dealing with infighting.

Among other factors, years of political bitterness between BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has shaped the internal dynamics of the ruling party when it came to ticket distribution.

Vijayvargiya, keen to launch his son Akash in politics, had sought a ticket for him from either Mhow, which was earlier represented by him, or Indore-2, held by his close aide Ramesh Mendola.

Taai, as Mahajan is affectionately known, however saw to it that Akash was nominated from Indore-3 against Congress veteran Ashwin Joshi, who had won from this seat even in 2003 when the BJP stormed to power. She also earned a ticket for her close aide Madhu Verma from Rau.

The unexpected change of plans upset Vijayvargiya and his son. The party cadre here are also not as enthused as CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan did not to pick anyone from Indore in his Cabinet despite the city offering BJP a landslide win in 2013.

Moreover, the city that is dotted with commercial establishments and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises was hit hard by the twin blows of demonetisation and GST.

“Notebandi had caused great amount of hassle to local trader and business community but the wounds have healed to an extent now,” said Gautam Kothari, president of Pithampur Industry Association.

“The complex GST, however, is still a thorn in the flesh of traders and businessmen as the tax regime punishes them with penalties for every single violation. Complying with the norms is a major hassle for local traders and businessmen who have limited manpower,” said Kothari.


Amid high drama, Sanjay Shukla, who hails from a family of BJP veterans, got a Congress ticket against sitting MLA Sudarshan Gupta. The strong anti-incumbency sentiment had earned Gupta the wrath of his own partymen when he called Shukla’s father a goon. Besides, Shukla who has declared assets worth over Rs 100 crore, gained popularity by announcing he would get 600 borewells dug here with his own money in slum areas to address their water woes. He has also built appeal among the locals and seems to have a slight edge over Gupta.


Having won the last assembly polls with over 93,000 votes, the maximum margin for any MLA in the state, muscleman Ramesh Mendola of BJP is pitted in a close battle this time after Congress picked advocate Mohan Sengar.

While Mendola faces questions about the lack of basic amenities in most parts of his constituency, Sengar has made promises like setting up of small dispensaries that would charge Rs 10 for treatment, small marriage halls charging Rs 25,000 only and English medium schools of his own that would charge Rs 100 as fee from poor kids. Mendola’s problems could be gauged from the fact that he often remains active in jansampark till 1or 2am and has not made a single visit to help out Akash, son of his political mentor.


Billed as the big fight in the city, the seat has emerged as a matter of prestige for Kailash Vijayvargiya who earlier announced he would not help his son with campaigning, but has been busy day and night to ensure he emerges victorious.

Congress veteran Ashwin Joshi aided by his uncle and senior party leader Mahesh Joshi and senior leader Sajjan Verma is giving the Vijayvargiyas a run for their money.

A very outspoken politician who often scolds his own voters, Joshi has strong ground connect and is known for a clean image in the constituency that house most of the city’s commercial markets. Even local BJP leaders aren’t too happy with the entry of the mighty Vijayvarigya in their region.


The constituency, dubbed as Ayodhya of Indore with deep running saffron sentiments, is represented by Mayor Malini Gaur who has earned plaudits due to Indore being adjudged the cleanest city in India twice during her term. Despite anti-incumbency, Gaur seems to be safe in her contest against Congress’ Surjeet Singh Chaddha.


It’s an interesting case where both the BJP’s sitting MLA Mahendra Hardia and Congress’ Satyanarauan Patel are contesting in a very cordial manner, a rarity in present politics. Still the former minister Hardia with his strong connect in the area is expected to see through in a constituency which was also represented by Patel in the past.


After sitting MLA Kailash Vijayvargiya surrendered candidature from Mhow to field his son elsewhere, the BJP opted for firebrand leader and current Indore-3 MLA Usha Thakur, who is best known for her aggressive stance against Muslims. Thakur was not pleased with the change and Congress senior leader Antar Singh Darbar is seen as having the upper hand due to his strong bonding with the locals.


Jyotiraditya Scindia’s close aide Tulsiram Silawata, a muscleman, is taking on BJP’s sitting MLA Rajesh Sonkar, who has his back against the wall due to anti-incumbency factor and his own inactivity. His cause got tougher when his car hit a calf during campaigning, enraging locals. Silawat who has lost in 2013 is itching to come back to winning ways and has direct backing of Scindia.


The case of BJP MLA Manoj Patel is similar to partyman Sonkar from Sanwer as Patel is also facing anti-incumbency and faces charges of not being visible in the last five years. Congress nominee Vishal Patel, son of late MLA Jagdish Patel, has ground support as well as that of Satyanarayan Patel, who was vying for a ticket from here but was shifted to Indore-5.


Rau will witness the second big fight in Indore as Congress working president Jitu Patwari is pitted against former Indore Development Authority chairman Madhu Verma. Despite his state level responsibilities, Patwari maintains contact with the voters, mostly by cycling in the constituency.

Verma’s prospects do not seem too bright as during his tenure in IDA, he introduced various schemes in Rau but those schemes include acquisition of farmers’ land, compensation for which is still pending. Besides, Patwari is also among favourites of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in MP.

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