MP Lok Sabha Phase-1: Decoding Number Game & Caste Politics Of Mahakaushal & Vindhya As 6 Seats Go To Polls On April 19

MP Lok Sabha Phase-1: Decoding Number Game & Caste Politics Of Mahakaushal & Vindhya As 6 Seats Go To Polls On April 19

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 07:48 PM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Over 1 crore voters gear up to elect their leaders on six constituencies across Mahakaushal and Vindhya regions of Madhya Pradesh. Six Lok Sabha seats-- Jabalpur, Chhindwara, Mandla, Balaghat, Sidhi and Shahdol will go to polling in phase 1 scheduled on April 19. 

1. BJP Eyes Nath's Chhindwara

The hottest seat in Madhya Pradesh, Chhindwara, has the eyes of both the BJP and Congress. With previous reports on Kamal Nath and his son Nakul Nath’s plans to join the BJP,  Chhindwara has also emerged as one of the most controversial seats in MP in the last few months. Since then, there has been a spree of Congress leaders exiting the party to join the BJP. The Congress leader from Chhindwara, Amit Saxena, is the latest on the break-up list.

Like the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, this time too, sitting MP Nakul Nath will face BJP's Bunty Sahu. Though Nath won his father’s fort, the data reveals a three percent drop in the Congress’ vote share between 2014 and 2019.

As the BJP gives it all to attain a perfect 29 in MP and Congress determines to retain its fort, it will be interesting to see who will win Chhindwara.

2. High Profile Battle In Mandla:

Neighbouring Chhindwara, lies Mandla. This is going to be one of the most high-profile contests in Madhya Pradesh. Despite Union Minister Faggan Singh Kulaste facing defeat in the 2023 assembly elections from Mandla’s Niwas constituency, the BJP has given him Lok Sabha ticket. He will fight Congress’ Dindori MLA, Omkar Singh Markam-- a popular face among Tribals.

Reports suggest that the locals are angry with Kulaste; therefore, his campaign solely relies on PM Modi’s face. It will be worth watching if Modi’s magic makes up for Kulaste’s poor public.

3. Rajput VS Panwar In Balaghat:

Right below Mandla lies Balaghat. With the dominance of the Panwar community, followed by tribals and Lodhis, the caste factor seems to overpower development and civic issues here.

BJP, instead of fielding its sitting MP Dhal Singh Bisen—a Rajput—has shown trust in legislator Bharti Pardhi—belonging to the Panwar caste. On the contrary, Congress has given tickets to Rajput leader Samrat Saraswat.

4. Tribal dominated Shahdol (ST) Yearns For Development

With over 40% of the of the tribal population, Shahdol is one of the top seats on the BJP's Madhya Pradesh list. While the BJP has fielded sitting MP Himadri Singh, Congress has reinstated faith in three-time MLA Phundelal Marko.

The ST-reserved seat is yearning for development and lacks advanced health infrastructure. During the assembly election campaign, PM Modi distributed 1 crore Ayushman Cards, where beneficiaries can avail medical treatment up to Rs 5 lakh. This year’s budget too had separate allocations for houses in Baiga, the dominant community of this region, under PM Janman Awas Yojana.

Only time will tell if PM Modi's efforts have yielded results here.

5. Caste-Driven Sidhi:

Another tribal-dominated seat, Sidhi bagged headlines after a video showing a BJP leader allegedly peeing on a tribal man rocked the entire nation. The impact of the video was such that then CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan took to damage control and washed the feet of the victim ahead of assembly elections. The then MLA, Kedarnath Shukla, even lost his ticket in the 2023 polls.

This time, the BJP fielded its sitting MP, Riti Pathak, in the assembly election from the same seat and gave Lok Sabha tickets to Dr. Rajesh Mishra. He will be fighting Congress’ Siddharth Kushwaha. Caste politics play an important role here. Independent candidate Lakshman Singh Bains and Gondwana Gantantra Party’s Ajay Pratap Singh may prove to be party spoilers.

However, the fact that the BJP's vote share rose by 20% since 2009 in Sidhi cannot be ignored.

6. Jabalpur Basks In Modi's Charm?

Both Congress and BJP have fielded new faces—Dinesh Yadav and Ashish Dubey, respectively. While Congress campaigns aim at raising issues like inflation and unemployment, the BJP is seeking votes in PM Modi’s name. It is worth noting that the BJP dumped its 4-time MP from Jabalpur (now MLA) Rakesh Singh and fielded him in the assembly polls.

The public seems to be divided here; while youths question joblessness and development in Jabalpur, others are happy basking in Modi’s charm.

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