The overriding presence of Lakshman Singh alias `Chhote Raja?, younger brother of Chief Minister Digvijay Singh and caste factor plays a vital role in deciding the electoral fortunes of the candidates.india Updated: Oct 22, 2003 19:02 IST
There are two distinct factors, which affect electoral patterns in Rajgarh district, as nowhere else in the State. One is the overriding presence of Lakshman Singh alias `Chhote Raja’, younger brother of Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, who is also the MP from Rajgarh. He is said to have the final say in selection of candidates for the Congress. And secondly the caste factor comes into play.
Caste plays a far more important role here than elsewhere in Madhya Pradesh. Like, Dangis, dominant in Khilchipur constituency, vote for none else but the Congress or a rebel Dangi candidate, if Congress decides to field a person from some other caste.
When Pratap Singh Mandloi, the sitting Congress MLA from Rajgarh, who is a Sondhiya, another dominant caste in the region, got the ticket, all Sondhiyas, cutting across party line came together, to get him elected.
The Congress had won election on all the five constituencies of the district in the last election. And, by a comfortable margin too. But, the sitting MLAs do not seem to be confident of being fielded again because Laxman Singh is said to have a penchant to change candidates in each election. In the last election as well, all the faces were fresh and this phenomenon could be repeated once again.
The BJP, which had won two of the five seats in 1993, hopes to win on four (subject to proper selection of candidate) except Khilchipur, which they readily concede to the Congress.
Another remarkable feature in this district with profound feudal hangover is the Congress apparently presenting a picture of party dominated by petty kings and feudal lords while the BJP comes across as the one struggling against feudal stranglehold with the help of its grassroots inspired by a battery of top leaders like Kailash Joshi and Uma Bharti.
Rajgarh constituency, with an electoral base of 2 lakh voters, has two dominating castes – Tanwar Rajputs and Sondhiyas. Brahmins are also there in good numbers and so are Harijans.
Pratap Singh Mandloi, the rear windshield of whose car bears the imprint ‘Raja Ka Pratap’, says Congress is set to repeat its 1998 performance for two reasons. Charisma of Raja Saheb and Chhote Raja and development activities carried out in the district over the past decade. Work in health, education and water conservation, effective implementation of welfare schemes – he has a long description of how Digvijay Singh has nurtured his hometown in the past decade.
But, former MLA Raghunandan Sharma, who seems set to get the BJP ticket, has a counter question to ask.
If Singhs have such charisma, why is it that Laxman Singh always trails from Rajgarh district in the Lok Sabha elections? He trailed by 18,000 votes in the previous election as well. It is Chachoda and Raghogarh – both in Guna district-which largely contribute to his victory.
He further disagrees that any significant improvement has taken place in the social sector as claimed by the Congress.
Apart from sitting MLA Mandloi, three term MLA Sulab Sustani, Bar Association president Hari Prasad Vyas, Congress Sevadal district president Bapusingh Tanwar and Sunil Vijayvergiya are some of the prominent contenders for Rajgarh seat.
Apart from Raghunandan Sharma, other contenders for the BJP ticket on this seat are Gokul Verma and Kailash Kaka.