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Congress sitting pretty in saffron bastion of Mandsaur

Though Pushpa Bharatiya won the Suwasara seat by around 5,000 votes against Jagdish Devra of the BJP in the last elections, her image has taken a severe beating over the years.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2003 14:01 IST

The district of Mandsaur has four constituencies and in the last elections all four were won by the Congress, much to everyone’s surprise since it has traditionally been a bastion of the RSS and the BJP.

While Navkrishna Patil won from Mandsaur, Bharat Singh won from Sitamau, Subhash Sojatiya from Bhanpura-Garot and Pushpa Bharatiya from the SC reserved seat of Suwasara.

Mandsaur district is also the birthplace of former State chief minister Sunderlal Patwa, and has had a strong presence of RSS in the area since the 50s. It has seen the famous, rather infamous long war of attrition between two BJP stalwarts - Virendra Kumar Saklecha and Sunderlal Patwa and even now though one of them is dead and the other largely incapacitated, the battle lines are still very much drawn between the supporters of these two leaders.

MANDSAUR

In the last elections, much to everyone’s surprise Congress candidate Navkrishna Patil, then a greenhorn defeated the veteran BJP candidate and home minister in the Patwa ministry, Kailash Chawla. What was most surprising was the margin of the defeat - nearly 9,000 votes.

Chawla’s defeat was attributed to the successful campaign by his opponent, with active help from people within the BJP, through which they linked Chawla to his alleged links with Doda Chura smugglers of the area. Also Chawla had lost contact with the people and had become active only before the elections.

But while Patil, a supporter of Kamal Nath had a surprise victory in the last elections. Again to everyone’s surprise Patil has been given the ticket this time.

The main threat against him was the anger of the Muslim community towards him. Of the 1 lakh odd voters, there are around 30,000 Muslims in the constituency. They are angry because Patil failed to prevent an Anjuman land being taken over by the Mandsaur municipality on which they constructed a bus stand.

The political equations are now such that with Patil getting the ticket, Osman Seth, the Anjuman committee chairman has threatened that he will stand for elections and is sure to take away at least 4,000 to 5,000 votes, making it very difficult for Patil to win. Another negative going against Patil is that Congress has lost all elections - be it municipality, mandi or district panchayat elections in the last four and half years when Patil has been the MLA.

Another aspirant for ticket from Mandsaur was the suave and competent Industry and Commerce Minister Narendra Nahata. Even though Nahata has won from Manasa constituency in Neemuch in the last two elections, he has always been keen to make Mandsaur his base. This time also he has been given the ticket from Mandsaur.

One of the reasons why Nahata was averse to Manasa is the presence of Munna Bairagi, son of Bal Kavi Bairagi. In the last elections, the younger Bairagi proved to be a thorn in his flesh and would surely prove a thorn in the flesh for Nahata this time too - and considering that in the last elections the victory margin was less that 2,000, it is an uncomfortable situation.

Incidentally, if Nahata had been given the ticket from Mandsaur, no Muslim candidate would have contested, for the anger of the Muslim community is not with the Congress, but with Patil.

Another aspirant for the ticket from Mandsaur was Virendra Nahata, the younger brother of Narendra Nahata. The younger Nahata has been in active student politics and is the main strategist for his elder brother. But of course, giving two tickets to the brothers is highly unlikely - but the younger Nahata is supposed to have told the chief minister while staking his claim, “how long would I have to suffer from the fact that I am Narendra Nahata’s brother.”

For the BJP, Kailash Chawla was one of the main aspirants, but the fact that he lost by over 9,000 votes in the last elections does not bode well. And there is no guarantee that his alleged links with Doda Chura smugglers would not be exploited, successfully by his opponents this time too. Chawla too was not banking solely on Mandsaur, he was also asking for tickets from Manasa in Neemuch and Sitamau, from where he won in 1980. Unfortunately he has not been considered from any of these constitusncies.

Yashpal Sisodiya, Chairman of Mandsaur Municipal Corporation, who is a loyal follower of veteran BJP leader Dr Laxminarayan Pandey, was also a strong contestant. Sisodiya won the elections by a margin of over 8,000 votes in the municipal elections. He is young and has a good image and has three major works that he can show the public - the municipality building, the swimming pool and the bus stand.

But beating everybody in the race was a surprise entrant in the election race in veteran BJP leader Om Prakash Purohit. Well into his seventies, he suddenly aired his interest in contesting from Mandaur. A close follower of Sunderlal Patwa, there was a time when he could have got the ticket whenever he wanted, but he chose not to fight, but why he suddenly asked for a ticket this time remains a mystery. All said and done he is the one who has been chosen by the party to fight the election.

Sitamau

Traditionally Sitamau has seen the Rajputs and the Patidars battle it out and in most of the cases, the Rajputs have come up triumphs. In the last elections, it was Bharat Singh of the Congress who won the elections beating Nanalal Patidar by a margin of 821 votes, though in the election before that it was Nanalal who had defeated Bharat Singh.

This time Bharat Singh had indicated that he does not want the ticket, and which has been given to Yuvraj Rajsingh Sitamau. He is the nephew of the erstwhile Raja of Sitamau - KS Rathore, and has also started meeting people, after he chucked his job with a private telephone company in Raipur.

Apparently, the chief minister has promised him this seat. He would be banking on his royal connection and the 30,000 odd Rajput votes - (mainly Rathore, Sisodiya and Bhati).

For the BJP, there were many claimants including Kailash Chawla, who won this seat in 1980, Yashpal Sisodiya, the chairman of Mandsaur Municipality. Actually, Yashpal hails from Sitamau and his father and brother have been MLAs from the area, his brother Rajendra Sisodiya was the last Rajput candidate fielded by the BJP in 1958, a contest, which Rajendra won. Another name doing the rounds is that of Rajendra Surana, though his chances are not that bright.

None of them got the nod for it was once again Nanalal Patidar who was chosen as the BJP candidate.

Garot Bhanpura

In Garote Bhanpura, it has been Subhash Sojatiya of the Congress all the way in the last two elections. In the last one he won by over 20,000 votes against his nearest BJP rival Radheyshyam Mandliya.

Therefore, for the Congress it is going to be Subhash Sojatiya, and for the BJP it will be Rajesh Yadav, the district panchayat vice-president or Harakchand Harsola, who lost to Sojatiya in the 1993 elections Chawla.

All the local BJP leaders are under Sojatiya’s thumb and do not have the caliber to win against him.

Suwasara

Though Pushpa Bharatiya won the Suwasara seat by around 5,000 votes against Jagdish Devra of the BJP in the last elections, her image has taken a severe beating over the years. Even those in the Congress circles openly admitted that her desire to mint money through transfers, postings and taking a cut in everything has put even them to shame.

Some of the other aspirants included Ramgopal Bhartiya, who is the sitting MLA’s father-in-law. Parvati Arya, district panchayat member - the logic of giving her the ticket would be replacing one woman with another and Girish Verma son of Congress MLA Asaram Verma, who won this seat in 1985 but to everybody’s surprise Pushpa Bharatiya has again been named as the Congress nominee.

For the BJP, it is Jagdish Devra once again. Though he lost the last election, Devra, has kept touch with his electorate and has been working among them. He also has the blessings of Dr Laxminayaran Pandey.