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Will Anti-incumbency of BJP Candidates Help Congress Win Saffron Forts of Bundelkhand?

The Congress is riding high on farm loan waivers in Madhya Pradesh and the BJP is hopeful that the works of the government and PM Narendra Modi’s image would help it win.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:May 6, 2019, 11:51 AM IST
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Will Anti-incumbency of BJP Candidates Help Congress Win Saffron Forts of Bundelkhand?
File photo of voters standing in queue with their identity cards to cast their votes (Image: PTI)

Bhopal: After ousting the BJP in Madhya Pradesh after 15 years, a resurgent Congress is putting its best foot forward to dent the saffron forts in Bundelkhand as the central Indian state goes to polls in the second phase on Monday.

Polling for Tikamgarh, Damoh and Khajuraho in Bundelkhand, Satna and Rewa in Vindhya and Hoshangabad and Betul seats —all held by the BJP at present —is taking place today. Sagar, also part of Bundelkhand, will go to polls on May 12.

Among prominent candidates, former union minister Prahlad Patel is the BJP nominee from Damoh and union minister Virendra Khatik is contesting from Tikamgarh. The Bundelkhand seats have been won by the BJP for years and in order to keep its stronghold intact, the party got Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promote the party candidates.

The traditionally parched landscape has eight MP districts and seven adjoining districts from the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

Rahul Gandhi had made headlines in 2008 after he spent the night with a tribal family in their mud house in a village in Bundelkhand’s Tikamgarh district. This was a time when the farmers in the region were committing suicide following a prolonged drought and after Gandhi’s visit the then UPA government came up with an economic package to help the farmers of the region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Tikamgarh on Sunday slammed Gandhi for his 2008 visit, saying he had food at a tribal household but never repaid the debt. The BJP government on Sunday gifted the tribal woman a house under the PM Awas Yojana, the PM announced.

The Congress failed to open its account in Bundelkhand’s four seats – Damoh, Khajuraho, Tkamgarh and Sagar in 2009 and 2014. It has not won Damoh since 1989 and last won Sagar in 1996. The BJP has been winning the Khajuraho seat since 1989, except in 1999 when Congress leader Satyavrata Chaturvedi had won it. Chaturvedi had rebelled against the party for a ticket for his son in the last assembly polls.

The Tikamgarh parliamentary constituency, which was carved out after delimitation in 2008, has also been held by the BJP since 2009. This time, party’s nominee from Tikamgarh, Virendra Khatik, is facing anti-incumbency and internal dissent. exMLA from BJP RD Prajapati has rebelled and contesting on Samajwadi Party from here.

The Congress president has held rallies in Rewa, Tikamgarh, Damoh and Khajuraho and BJP chief Amit Shah has held rallies in Rewa, Tikamgarh and Khajuraho.

In Damoh, the BJP nominee Prahlald Patel is facing anti-incumbency and dissent from within BJP. He however has also support from Pm Modi’s persona and popularity.

VD Sharma, RSS nominee and former ABVP office bearer, is fighting an interesting battle in Khajuraho amid voices of dissent from within the party. He is pitted against Congress leader Kavita Singh, wife of Congress MLA Vikram Singh Natiraja. Sharma, a Brahmin candidate, has a tough task in the region which has a sizable clout of Thakurs. However, the RSS has thrown its weight behind Sharma to make him victorious.

In Sagar, Congress’s Prabhu Singh Thakur is pitted against BJP’s Rajbahadur Singh Thakur. With the Congress losing last six polls, the BJP is hoping to retain the seat this time as well. Rajbahadur Thakur is a close relative of former home minister Bhupendra Singh. Prabhu Thakur was a minister in the Digvijaya Singh government and won his first elections in 1993.

The Congress is riding high on farm loan waivers while the BJP is hopeful that the works of the government and PM Modi’s image would take it through this time as well.

Keeping in mind the contest in agri-based Bundelkhand region, the Congress had underlined the farm loan waiver with full vigour, but the BJP tried its best to punch holes in the Congress theory, alleging that the party cheated farmers on the pretext of loan waiver.

During his election rallies, Rahul Gandhi has time and again alleged massive anomalies in the Bundelkhand special package of Rs 3,800 crore, claiming it was the UPA government which had gifted the package to the region but BJP in the state had embezzled the amount.

Gandhi had even asked chief minister Kamal Nath to get the anomalies probed and bring back the money to the people.

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