MP Polls: At Shivraj's Fort, Budhni, Kamal Nath Makes It A 'Kalakar Vs Kalakar' Show

MP Polls: At Shivraj's Fort, Budhni, Kamal Nath Makes It A 'Kalakar Vs Kalakar' Show

Mastal is a TV actor-turned-politician who played the role of Lord Hanuman in the Ramayan serial that featured on TV in 2008.

IANSUpdated: Sunday, October 22, 2023, 02:57 PM IST
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Shivraj Vs Vikram: Congress, has fielded actor Vikram Mastal— famous for playing the role of Lord Hanuman, against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Mastal will be contesting the election from Budhni constituency, a seat that Chouhan has won five-times. |

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Congress candidate Vikram Mastal may be a comparatively weak candidate against BJP's most influential leader in Madhya Pradesh and the longest-serving incumbent Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but Kamal Nath seems to have made a strategic move by making it an ideological fight.

Mastal is a TV actor-turned-politician who played the role of Lord Hanuman in the Ramayan serial that featured on TV in 2008. By fielding Vikram Mastal -- on-screen 'Hanuman' -- from the Budhni Assembly seat which has been represented by Chouhan for years, Kamal Nath made the fight interesting by terming it a "kalakar vs kalakar" show.

Kamal Nath and soft-Hindutva politics

Veteran Congress leader, who is leading the party second time in the state for an 'revengeful' poll battle against 'betrayal' of March 2020 incident, Kamal Nath has been frequently attacking the 18-year Chief Minister, saying that Chouhan is a 'kalakar' who has "deceived" the people of the state. Political observers believe that fielding on-screen Hanuman seems a part of Kamal Nath's soft-Hindutva plan, which came into action soon after his government was toppled in 2020.

A senior political observer claimed that the BJP tried its best to corner Kamal Nath on its traditional Hindutva agenda, but he remained out of the trap. Before the BJP could not bracket Kamal Nath with the anti-Hindutva lobby, he has been presenting himself as a devotee of Lord Hanuman since 2018. "Vikram Mastal may not be a big political face against Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but his reel life character has a large canvas which will help the party to create an impression across the state. Any political attack against Mastal will be presented as an attack on his reel-life character -- Lord Hanuman and that perception may help to corner the BJP's Hindutva ideology," said political observer added.

Mastal raises youth issues

"I am thankful to the Congress for showing trust in me. I would go to the people of Budhni with local issues. I will ask people what they have gained after supporting Chief Minister Chouhan for nearly two decades. Will ask people why Sehore's youths did not get jobs despite the fact that the Chief Minister belongs to their district," Mastal told IANS.

Chouhan has won five Assembly elections (1990, 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2018) from Budhni. Importantly, Budhni Assembly is one of the strongest seats of the ruling BJP for the past 20 years. The Congress won the Budhni seat last time in 1980 when K.N. Pradhan contested on a Congress ticket.

In the last election, the Congress had fielded former MP Arun Yadav, the son of former minister and strong OBC leader of his time Subhash Yadav. However, Chouhan won the election with a margin of around 59,000 votes. It took 15 years for Congress to revive after the biggest ever setback in 2003 Assembly elections when it was reduced to 38 seats and managed to win 114 seats and formed the government with support of Independent legislature and Samajwadi Party in 2018. Believing that this time Chouhan will face incumbency, Kamal Nath is leaving no stone unturned to bring the Congress back to power in Madhya Pradesh.

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