Madhya Pradesh polls: Clashing Congress candidates may open door for BJP in Sendhwa constituency yet again

Sendhwa: In the past three Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, BJP has maintained its hold on Sendhwa—a constituency 150 kilometres from Indore—courtesy internal disputes in Congress and rebellions among its workers. So much so that if one Congress leader gets a ticket, the competitor allegedly directs all his votes to the BJP candidate. The two contenders for a Congress ticket in Sendhwa, Gyarsilal Rawat and Sukhlal Parmar, have been at loggerheads, leaving the seat out of reach of the grand old party since 2003. What is thus ironic is the locals' claim that Sendhwa is favourable ground for the Congress—in terms of electorate—due to its candidates' tribal connection.

Infighting in the Congress has left the Sendhwa seat out of the grand old party's reach since 2003. Image courtesy: Karishma S

Congress infighting has put the Sendhwa seat out of reach of the grand old party since 2003. Image courtesy: Karishma S

Two communities contend for the seat reserved for Scheduled Tribes: Barela and Bhilala. The claimants, Rawat and Parmar, who hail from the Barela community are engaged in a bitter rivalry. BJP’s Antar Singh Arya managed to bag this seat in 2003 with 32,000 votes because of this feud. “Because of internal politics and groupism, the seat went into BJP’s hands," said Sukhlal Parmar, former president of the Barwani district Congress committee. "If Sendhwa Congress leaders join hands, we will easily win this seat. In 2013, the party gave a ticket to a weak candidate."

The Rawat-Parmar rivalry gained such notoriety that in 2013, the Congress award the Sendhwa ticket to an entirely new face: Dayaram Bata. President of Krishi Mandi (a farmer’s market), Bata was given the ticket against popular expectant Bhuvan Singh, whom the state leadership had readied. Congress leaders in Delhi cancelled Singh’s ticket after being informed about a rape charge against him and asked state leadership to replace him the same day. Since Bata was not a known face, BJP secured an easy win.

However, Rawat is extremely confident of securing a ticket this time around. “There were some issues in the past, but we are all together now and will definitely win the elections this time,” he said. As per locals, Arya and Rawat emerged as influential leaders after they were given tickets in 1990. Rawat gained prominence in the mainstream after emerging victorious in college elections. He, however, lost that election to Arya by 3,907 votes. In 1993 and 1998, Rawat played his cards well, bagging the seat with a margin of 6,472 and 3,083 votes, respectively. The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh was dissolved in 1992 in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid riots.

However, in the early 90s, when Parmar, a businessman working with the Congress, moved to Sendhwa, a new political dimension emerged. After he failed to bag a Congress ticket in 2003, Parmar contested the elections with NCP’s backing and managed to swing a significant number of votes (24,078). He lost by a narrow margin, but secured almost as many votes as Rawat, who lost to Arya by over 30,000 votes.  In 2008, Parmar pushed Rawat aside to bag the Congress ticket from Sendhwa. Which resulted in Rawat retaliating by directing his vote bank, the Barela community, towards Arya, who won by a margin of 12,818 votes. According to locals, Arya and Rawat belong to the Barela community and are distant relatives.

While the Congress was expected to release its first list of candidates for Madhya Pradesh polls Wednesday—which it still hasn't—it will be interesting to see how the party handles the gridlock in Sendhwa, which seemingly hurts its candidate's chances. Talking about the incumbent’s chances in Sendhwa, BJP district president S Veera Swami, said, “The party and MLA has done a lot of work in these years for farmers, youths and the locals, and I am sure this year we will win by a margin of 40,000 votes. There might be some problems in Congress, but BJP has always been a strong party. For Arya, there's no contest.”

The author is a freelance writer and a member of

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Updated Date: Nov 01, 2018 21:27:42 IST

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