After announcing candidature of senior leader Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal, which the Congress has not won since 1989, the party is mulling fielding prominent leaders from other seats like Vidisha and Indore, where it has not tasted success for last 15 years or more.
Bhopal is considered a tough seat for the Congress along with Indore, Vidisha, Bhind and Damoh as the BJP has not lost in these constituencies since 1989 but the Congress is hoping to build on the recent victory in Assembly polls to dislodge the saffron party here.
Apart from these five, there are nine other seats out of the total 29 Lok Sabha constituencies where the Congress has not won during the 15-year BJP rule in the state.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath has represented Chhindwara ten times including six times in a row while senior party leader and Congress general secretary for Uttar Pradesh (West) Jyotiradiya Scindia has been winning from Guna since 2002. These were the only two seats out of 29 won by the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha election which was swept by the BJP.
“The party will definitely field senior leaders in seats like Indore and Vidisha which it has not won since 1989,” Madhya Pradesh Congress spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi told PTI.
“Like Assembly polls, our party this time has sought opinions of ground level workers from mandal, block and district to finalise the best candidate who can win from those seats where the party has not won for long,” he said.
“The party had done similar experiment during assembly polls also and had got best results and the same is expected in Lok Sabha polls also because of anti-Modi sentiment in the country,” he said.
The Congress’ decision to field former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh from Bhopal has already raised the political temperature in the state.
Soon after Singh’s candidature was announced, Ajay Singh, former leader of opposition and close confidant of Digvijaya Singh, demanded that the party should field other senior leaders from tough seats like Indore and Vidisha.
Without taking the name of any particular leader, he told PTI that “the party has a very tall leader in Chambal Gwalior region and he should be fielded from other tough seats like Indore and Vidisha”.
He was apparently referring to Congress general secretary and Guna MP, Jyotiraditya Scindia. Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh and Scindia have been leading rival factions in the party’s state unit.
The BJP has not yet decided its candidate in Bhopal and there is speculation that former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan may be pitted against Digvijaya Singh. In 2003 also, Chouhan had contested assembly polls against Singh from latter’s home constituency Raghogarh in Guna district.
There are 14 constituencies from where the Congress had not won during the BJP rule in the state, while the saffron party failed to wrest Congress stronghold of Chhindwara and Guna.
State BJP’s chief spokesman Deepak Vijaywargiya said, “This time BJP will try to win all the 29 seats in the state and will field strong candidates of the caliber of Scindia and Nath in their respective constituencies.”
“The party will field the best workers from the remaining seats of the state so that it can win from all the constituencies,” he said.
“Depending upon the opposition candidate, the party may also change its strategy at the last moment to ensure victory in each and every constituency,” he added.
The fourteen seats from where the Congress has not won since last 15 years are — Bhopal, Indore, Vidisha, Morena, Bhind, Sagar, Tikamgarh, Damoh, Khajuraho, Satna, Jabalpur, Balaghat, Betul and Rewa.
The Congress has announced candidature of Kiran Ahirwar from Tikamgarh, Kavita Singh from Khajuraho, Madhu Bhagat from Balaghat and Ramu Tekam from Betul.
Except Rewa, the BJP has been winning from the rest of the seats. In 2009, Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Devraj Singh Patel won from Rewa while in 2004 and 2014, the BJP emerged victorious from this seat in Vindhya region bordering Uttar Pradesh.
Since 1996, the BJP has not lost from Morena, Sagar, Jabalpur and Betul while it is winning continuously since 1998 from Satna and Balaghat.
In the remaining 13 seats Gwalior, Jhabua, Shahdol, Mandla, Hoshangabad, Rajgarh, Dewas, Ujjain, Mandsaur, Dhar, Sidhi, Khargone and Khandwa there have been mixed results for the two parties during the last 15 years.