FOR THE Congress party, the groundwork in the recently held Pandhana elections was done almost entirely by workers of Khargone (especially Kasrawad which is Congress president Subhash Yadav’s hometown) and Khandwa, both strongholds of Yadav, who perhaps realises that the result of the elections might have a direct bearing on his continuation as the Congress State president.
Yadav camped in Khandwa at Sai Automobiles, a four-wheeler agency owned by him, for a fortnight before polls marshalling his men. He had very little outside help, no leader of eminence save former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh came to campaign for the candidate and Singh’s effort was also half-hearted.
Many party workers who came from Kasrawad said that they realised the importance of the election for Yadav and said they had pitched in every ounce of their strength for at least a respectable Congress defeat.
They realise very well that after the Congress defeat at Bada Malhera and Vidisha, a third defeat in a row would make Yadav’s hold on the Congress presidentship tenuous.
In the Vidisha and Bada Malhera elections, Yadav had a genuine grievance in the sense that in both cases the candidates – Jagdish Shukla in Malhera and Rajshree Singh in Vidisha – were not of his choice. They were thrust on him by the party high command. Moreover neither of the two areas were his strongholds.
But in the Pandhana elections, things were a bit different. Through Congress candidate Hiralal Silawat is known to be close to former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, Yadav was not unhappy with his choice, Congress insiders maintain. Moreover, Nimar is Yadav’s pocket borough and he is expected to show his strength here.
What is more, none of the parties can claim (howsoever unjustified they might be) that there was rigging in these elections, since barring few minor complaints the Pandhana by-elections were violence free and fair.