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By-elections in Guna turn into Shivraj Singh Chouhan-Jyotiraditya Scindia super-fight

Jyotiraditya Scindia has been LS MP from Guna since 2002 and any loss would be seen as a blow to him as he is the likely Congress CM face against Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 07, 2018, 09.11 AM IST
By-elections in Guna turn into Shivraj Singh Chouhan-Jyotiraditya Scindia super-fight
The upcoming by-polls are being seen as an important warm-up contest between Scindia and Chouhan, before the main election battle due in December.
MUNGAOLI/KOLARAS(MP): ‘Abki Baar, Shivraj Ki 200 Seat Paar’ versus ‘Na BJP, Na Shivraj, Abki Baar Scindia Sarkar’ – wall paintings with two competing narratives adorn the rural landscape in Mungaoli and Kolaras, the two assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh headed for the bypolls on February 24. One claims more than 200 seats in the 230-seat assembly in the state polls later this year for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP, and the other a victory for Jyotiraditya Scindia-led Congress.

The upcoming bypolls are being seen as an important warm-up contest between the two leaders, before the main election battle due in December.

Chouhan is putting his all in the campaign for bypolls in what is considered Scindia’s bastion – from holding a 30-km long road show in Kolaras on Monday to a 20-km one in Mungaoli on Tuesday and holding massive rallies in both constituencies – to snatch the seats from the Congress to prove that his popularity is not only intact but growing.

“If people make the BJP win here, Mungaoli and Kolaras will get two MLAs apiece – one our candidate and second MLA will be me. I will work like an MLA for both seats for the next six months,” Chouhan told ET on the sidelines of his Mungaoli rally.

Since 2002, Scindia has been the Lok Sabha representative from Guna, under which both assembly constituencies fall and were won by the Congress in the 2013 assembly polls. Although Congress is widely expected to win the two seats again, Chouhan, smarting from defeats in two assembly bypolls last year, appears determined not to let this happen. If the Congress loses it would be a blow to Scindia at a time when he is being seen as a front runner for being declared the party’s chief ministerial face against Chouhan in the assembly polls.

Little wonder then, campaign attacks have turned personal. Perhaps for the first time, on Tuesday, Chouhan named Scindia in his rally in Mungaoli, lambasting him for the wall paintings saying ‘Abki Baar Scindia Sarkar’. “Abhi to meri sarkar hi hai, aur rahegi (At present it’s my government, and it will remain so). You have written your ambition on the walls but what have you done for the 411 villages of Mungaoli? You have become an MP so many times but all you do is abuse Shivraj Chouhan day in and out… jab dekho mujhe gaali, meri ninda. Scindia only gives bhashan (speeches) and never speaks of irrigation schemes I brought to the state,” the CM said.

He even accused Scindia of blocking development works by repeatedly complaining to the Election Commission. “I think your MP has a problem with development here. He wants you to remain poor as he feels if people prosper here, everyone will start thinking of themselves as a king like him,” Chauhan said. He said he was not even a burden on the CM’s chair given his “simple demeanour and dubla-patla (lean) physique”.

Both parties are making a show of strength in the two constituencies. While Scindia and Kamal Nath came for filing of nominations by the Congress candidates in both seats on January 31, Chouhan flanked by Union rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar and BJP vice president Prabhat Jha visited the constituencies on Monday and Tuesday.

Tomar also took a dig at Scindia, saying when the latter as MP was a minister in the UPA government, the Centre did not cooperate with Chouhan as the CM for the development of Madhya Pradesh. “Like Rahul Gandhi cannot digest Narendra Modi’s hard work, Scindia cannot digest Chouhan’s hard work as CM,” Tomar said in Mungaoli.

BJP’s state president Nandkumar Chauhan said both Mungaoli and Kolaras seats have oscillated between BJP and Congress since 1985, with BJP and Congress taking turns to win Mungaoli in cyclic pattern. While the BJP has won Kolaras four times, the Congress has won thrice. “This time, we will win both seats,” he told ET.

The BJP is riding mainly on Chouhan’s appeal. “Call me Mama, not CM. All kids call me that, believing I will bring them happiness,” Chouhan said, seeking to strike a chord with the crowd instantly as a skull-cap wearing Muslim tied him a pink turban. The party has given a woman candidate, Baisaab Yadav, the ticket from Mungaoli, who is the widow of a former BJP MLA from here. “She is a mother-like figure. She is only asking you to keep her pride intact by making her win,” Chouhan told the crowd, adding quickly that there is nothing to gain by voting for the Congress. “The key to the khazana (treasury) is with me in Bhopal and with Modi in Delhi. What does Congress have?”

The Congress, too, has fielded a Yadav candidate, Brijesh Singh Yadav, in the constituency dominated by the community. “Congress will win this seat by at least 20,000 votes. The more Chouhan comes here the more he damages the BJP’s chances as people are now irritated with the CM for failed promises,” said Abbas Ali in Mungaoli’s main bazaar. The BJP, however, is hoping for a surprise.

(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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