Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Bordering Uttar Pradesh and spread over nine districts - Rewa, Shahdol, Satna, Sidhi, Singrauli, Anuppur, Umaria, Maihar and Mauganj – the Vindhya Pradesh region of the state returns 30 members to the Vidhan Sabha.
In the 2018 elections, the BJP turned victorious on 24 seats, while the Congress had to settle at 6. This time, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is eyeing to enter in the state assembly through the region.
The BJP is confident that it will repeat the 2018 performance by winning 24 to 25 seats in the region, given the implementation of various welfare schemes by the state government and also the Centre.
The Congress is sure of winning around 22 seats as it feels that the BJP's electoral graph will go down due to anti-incumbency. The BJP has fielded two sitting Lok Sabha MPs in the Vindhya region polls - Ganesh Singh from Satna and Riti Pathak from Sidhi. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party has high hopes from the region as it had entered MP politics through Vindhya, winning the mayoral seat of Singrauli in 2022. Now, Singrauli mayor Rani Agrawal, who is also president of the AAP's state unit, is in the fray from the Singrauli assembly seat.
Party chief Kejriwal along with his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann together visited the region twice to campaign for the AAP. Mann also held several public meetings separately in support of AAP candidates. The region has also been a bastion of the BSP as it sent three leaders to Parliament -Bheem Singh Patel in 1991, Budhasen Patel in 1996 and Deoraj Singh Patel in 2009 - all from the Rewa constituency. The party won twice from the Gurh Assembly seat in 1993 and 1998, and its candidate IMP Verma emerged victorious from Mauganj three times in a row from 1993 to 2003. A new political outfit - Vindhya Janata Party - floated by ex-BJP legislator from Maihar, Narayan Tripathi, is also in poll fray in the region. Tripathi was elected to the assembly on a Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket in 2003.
Political awareness in the region can be mainly attributed to the strong socialist movement which saw participation from Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Tribals and Dalits, while upper castes stayed with the Congress after independence. This made people aware of the politics of resistance and self-respect against feudal forces.
Most of the big leaders of the BJP in Vindhya are either old socialists or former Congressmen. When BJP leader and former CM Uma Bharti floated a new political outfit - Bharatiya Janshakti, a candidate put up by her won assembly election from Vindhya. The BJP has a large chunk of the OBC voter base with it and welfare schemes launched by its government over the years may have an impact on the outcome of the upcoming polls.