Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha election: Modi, Rahul battle it out as BJP, Congress target each other's strongholds

With less than a week to go for the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha elections, political heavyweights have reached the state to address election rallies in strategic Assembly constituencies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a rally in Mandsaur, BJP president Amit Shah will address a gathering in Chhindwara, while Congress president Rahul Gandhi will hold three back-to-back rallies in Vidisha and Sehore, considered as the home turf of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Mandsaur had been the epicentre of the farmers’ agitation and mob violence in June 2017, that led to the death of six farmers in police firing. The protest by farmers has come as a challenge for Chouhan, who calls himself a "gareeb kisan ka beta" (poor farmer’s son).

While the state BJP hopes that Modi's visit will boost its chances, the state Congress has questioned the prime minister's visit by asking, “Where was Modi when Mandsaur was on fire and six farmers were killed? Does he have the right to ask for votes from the people of Mandsaur?”

On the other hand, Amit Shah will hold a rally in Chhindwara – the parliamentary constituency and pocket borough of MPCC president Kamal Nath, from where he has been elected to the Lok Sabha ten times. A Congress stronghold, Chhindwara has seven Assembly seats.

 Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha election: Modi, Rahul battle it out as BJP, Congress target each others strongholds

File images of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. PTI

According to political analysts, while this election would prove to be the toughest for the ruling BJP in the last 15 years, it will be equally crucial for the Congress, which has been out of power since 2003.

On Friday, Rahul will hold three back-to-back public meetings at Basoda in Vidisha district, at industrial town Mandideep in Raisen, and Nasrullaganj in Sehore.

The Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency has eight Assembly segments — Budhni, Vidisha, Ichhawar, Silwani, Basoda, Khategaon, Bhojpur and Sanchi. During the last election, Chouhan won both from Vidisha and Budhni (Sehore district), and retained the latter.

However, of late, the chief minister has been facing the heat from the voters of Budhni. Recently, when Chouhan’s wife Sadhna Singh visited Budhni, she had to face the ire of the locals, who complained to her about the lack of basic amenities like drinking water, etc in the area.

The state unit of the Congress is expecting that Rahul’s visit to Basoda in Vidisha and Nasrullaganj, which is in Budhni (Sehore) will turn the tables in favour of the party. The importance of Budhni cannot be underestimated as Arun Yadav, former MPCC president and Union minister of state during the UPA-I regime, has been pitted against Chouhan.

Besides Madhya Pradesh, Rahul will also address a public meeting at Medchal in Telangana. However, for the Congress in Telangana, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's rally on Friday at the same place will be the most important one. Her visit will be the first since the state was formed in June 2014.

Telangana is important for the Congress, as it was the UPA which had approved the bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh, when Sonia was the Congress president. She had played a vital role in the creation of the state. The Telangana Congress will also release its ‘people’s manifesto’ on Friday.

The Congress has forged a grand alliance 'Prajakutami' with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and CPI to take on the TRS in the 7 December elections to the 119-member Telangana Assembly.

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Updated Date: Nov 23, 2018 19:21:11 IST