As there is no major issue in Vijayraghogarh assembly constituency by-poll where voting would be held on August 21, the ruling party BJP is trying to woo the voters in the name of development that its governments in the state and at the Centre would ensure in the area.
The Congress on its part is raising the issues of scams during the BJP rule.
BJP’s Sanjay Pathak, a mining baron, is pitted against the Congress’s Vijendra Mishra. The constituency is witnessing a straight contest between the BJP and the Congress. The spin in the elections comes from the fact that Sanjay Pathak, a Congress MLA till some months, is now contesting on a BJP ticket after defecting from the Congress.
His candidature received support from the state-level leaders while the local BJP leadership that had been opposed to him now finds itself with no choice but to go with the party’s wishes.
Sources in Katni said prior to the ticket distribution, BJP leaders in Vijayraghogarh had opposed Sanjay Pathak’s entry to the BJP and had even gone to Nagpur to the RSS headquarters to explain their objections but were not entertained.
Two prominent BJP leaders of Katni, Padma Shukla who had lost to Sanjay by a narrow margin of 929 votes in 2013 and former MLA Dhruv Pratap Singh were earlier not seen campaigning for Sanjay Pathak.
However, with the party leadership cracking the whip and the two being offered compensation in the form of chairpersonship of a state owned corporation or board, the two have been campaigning for Sanjay Pathak now - at least when senior party leaders from Bhopal visit Katni.
Sanjay Pathak, son of former Congress leader and minister Satyendra Pathak, has won from the constituency in 2008 and 2013 and belongs to the most prominent political family of Katni. His mother, Nirmala Pathak too has served as Mayor of Katni while his father represented the constituency in 1993 and 1998 before being defeated in 2003 elections by Dhruv Pratap Singh of the BJP.
Sanjay Pathak was demanding the Congress nomination from Khajuraho Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 Lok Sabha elections but resigned from the party after Raja Pateria was given the party ticket.
The Congress has fielded Vijendra Mishra, a former Mayor of Katni. Mishra has always been opposed to hegemony of the Pathak family in Congress politics.
He hails from an agricultural family and has a bus transport business and enjoys a good reputation among the electorate.
The factor the Congress has been banking upon is the apathy among traditional BJP voters who in case do not turn out in large numbers to vote for Sanjay Pathak, who they see as an outsider, will prove to be an advantage for the Congress.
While Sanjay Pathak seems to have an upper hand in the elections, he may not get the 1 lakh margin he has been demanding from people in his public meetings. The margin may remain modest.