Indore (Madhya Pradesh): The upcoming poll contest in Badnawar assembly seat of Madhya Pradesh's Dhar district has turned interesting this time as two arch rivals there from the BJP and Congress have switched sides to take on each other for the third time.
Locals have been animatedly discussing about this by coining a new phrase - "Ummeedwar wahi, par party nayi" (same candidate, but with a new party).
The main contest in the seat is between BJP leader and state Industrial Policy and Investment Promotion Minister Rajvardhan Singh Dattigaon (51) and Congress candidate Bhanwar Singh Shekhawat (72).
The two leaders belong to the Rajput community and are facing each other for the third time in a row in the state assembly polls scheduled on November 17.
Along with the Rajput community, people from tribal and Patidar communities also play an important role in deciding the poll result in this seat, which has nearly 2.21 lakh voters.
Dattigaon resigned with Scindia
Dattigaon, considered close to Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, was among the 22 rebel MLAs who quit the Congress and resigned from their assembly membership in 2020 to join the BJP after Scindia joined the saffron party.
This had led to the collapse of the then Kamal Nath government. The BJP then returned to power in the state under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Shekhawat quit the ruling BJP on September 2 this year and joined the opposition Congress.
He is now contesting on the Congress's ticket against BJP candidate Dattigaon in Badnawar.
Talking to PTI on Tuesday, Dattigaon said, "Shekhawat, who hails from Indore, is seen in Badnawar area during the election campaign, but he was missing from the constituency during the massive COVID-19 outbreak and did not even find it appropriate to enquire about the well-being of people of the region." "After my departure from the Congress, it did not even find a suitable local candidate to contest from Badnawar. This automatically points to the state of affairs in the grand old party," he remarked.
Shekhawat won the Badnawar seat as a BJP candidate in the 2013 assembly polls by defeating the then Congress candidate Dattigaon by a margin of 9,812 votes.
However, in the 2018 assembly elections, Dattigaon defeated Shekhawat by 41,506 votes.
'BJP has lost its original soul'
Dismissing the "local versus outsider" electoral equation in Badnawar, Congress candidate Shekhawat said, "I may be new in my party as of now, but Badnawar area has been my old workplace." Targeting the ruling party, he claimed, "The BJP has lost its original soul and the basic principles laid down at the time of its formation have been left far behind." "It (BJP) can do anything to gain power, and hence the party is now just like a trading shop in a mandi (local market)," Shekhawat further claimed.
His rival Dattigaon has been seeking support from voters in the name of works done in the fields of education, health, road construction and starting of large-scale employment generating industrial projects.
Shekhawat, on the other hand, has been promising that if he wins the election, he will facilitate channelising of the Narmada river water to the region by laying of a pipeline and complete all the development works, especially in tribal areas, which were left incomplete during his previous tenure as the BJP MLA (2013-2018).