As Congress lock horns with the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh to wrest the Ratlam-Jhabua seat, which has traditionally been its stronghold, it’s clear that a lot will depend on which of two parties do a better booth management and bring maximum voters to the polling booths.
In fact, Congress candidate Kantilal Bhuria, who lost to Dileep Singh Bhuria in 2014 general election by a margin of over one lakh votes, had polled 1,38,600 votes more than the 2009 election in which he won the seat with ease. Kantilal lost by a huge margin of 1,08,357 votes because of a jump in voting percentage by 13% in the 2014 election.
The election commission data shows that in 2009, when the Congress won the election by 57,827 votes, he had polled 3,08,923 votes as against 2,51,096 votes of the BJP candidate.
The total poll percentage in 2009 was around 50 with 63,74,29 people casting their votes as against the 12,51,597 voters in the constituency.
However, in 2014 Kantilal Bhuria lost the election by a yawning gap of 1,08,357 votes despite increasing his tally by 1,38,600 votes.
Dileep Singh, on the other hand, polled 5,45,980 votes, which was more than 50% of the total votes polled, while Congress candidate polled 4,37,523 votes, which was over 40% of the votes.
This happened mainly because the voting percent in 2014 election jumped by 13% and the voters who had not voted in 2009 election but voted in 2014, were largely in favour of the BJP.
“The difference between 2009 and 2014 election in Jhabua was large presence of the RSS in the latter election. In the past few years, RSS has made huge penetration into the tribal areas of west MP and upwards swing in vote per cent is also because of RSS’ larger participation in the election in Jhabua and other tribal seats of west MP,” said a senior Congress leader, without wishing to be named.
State Congress spokesperson, KK Mishra, however, seemed optimistic. “We are working on that. Our technical team is on the job to spread the party’s network to each nook and corner of the constituency and we shall micro-manage voting better than BJP-RSS in this election,” he said.
Kantilal Bhuria, who won the election from the seat four times between 1998 to 2009 is the party’s candidate from the seat in this by-election too, while Dileep Singh Bhuria’s daughter Nirmala, who is the incumbent MLA from Petlawad is contesting on the BJP ticket for the seat, which was left vacant after her father’s demise necessitating the by-election.
Dileep Singh Bhuria had won from the seat six times (five times on Congress ticket between 1980 and 1996 and once on BJP ticket in 2014).