Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s famed management style is on test in the six Lok Sabha seats where an average 65.77 per cent polling was recorded against 64.88 per cent in 2014 general elections.
MP was among the sunrise States for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, delivering 27 of the 29 seats to the BJP.
The Congress is putting up a spirited fight in the six seats, including Sidhi, Mandla, Balaghat, Chhindwara, Shahdol and Jabalpur. Of these, only Chhindwara had been won by Kamal Nath himself in 2014. The Chief Minister is now contesting from Chhindwara Assembly segment in the Lok Sabha seat of the same name from where his son Nakul Nath is the Congress candidate.
The BJP had failed to secure even one of the seven Assembly segments in this Lok Sabha seat in the State elections in 2018. The Congress swept all the seven Assembly segments — Junnardeo, Amarwara, Churai, Saunsar, Chhindwara, Parsia and Pandhuma in the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat.
The BJP, which has fielded former MLA and local tribal leader Natthan Shah from this seat, is hard-pressed to combat the father-son duo on their home turf.
‘In the stronghold’
In the BJP’s stronghold of Jabalpur, a seat which the ruling party at the Centre has not lost in the 23 years since 1996, four-term MP and State BJP president Rakesh Singh is contesting against senior advocate and the Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha. The BJP’s State chief had won this seat in 2014 by a margin of over 2 lakh votes in 2014.
But in 2018 Vidhan Sabha elections, the Congress wrested three Assembly segments — Bargi, Jabalpur East and Jabalpur North — in this Lok Sabha seat from the BJP, bringing the victory margin down for Rakesh Singh. Tankha has vowed to wrest the BJP’s stronghold this time around.
Similarly in Balaghat, a Lok Sabha seat held by the BJP since 1999, the Congress is engaged in a keen contest with the BJP’s sitting MP Bodh Singh Bhagat, who was denied a party ticket, contesting as an independent.
The BJP has fielded Dhal Singh Bisen from this seat. The Congress is currently holding five of the eight Assembly segments in this seat and is hoping to cash in on the rebellion in the BJP’s ranks.
“I saw voting closely in Baihar (an Assembly segment in Balaghat). The Congress is fighting a good battle here,” Maqbool, a farmer from Baihar told BusinessLine over the phone.
For the latest on elections: Elections 2019