In Madhya Pradesh, Congress’s challenge to reverse its fortune among Dalits amid Mayawati’s threat

Banking on the inroads it made in Dalit-dominated constituencies in Madhya Pradesh during last years state elections, the Congress is hopeful about four such seats won by the BJP in 2014, amid a powerplay with Mayawatis BSP. The Congress made significant gains in the four Scheduled Caste-reserved Lok Sabha seats of Bhind, Tikamgarh, Dewas and Ujjain, all held by the BJP, winning 17 of the 32 Assembly segments that make them up. The BJP, on the other side, could manage only 13 seats but hopes to make a comeback in this elections. One each were won by the Samajwadi Party and the BSP. However, the BSP which is supporting the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in the state is not happy after its Guna candidate, Lokendra Singh Rajput, switched over and vowed allegiance to Jyotiraditya Scindia last week. Mayawati, who has a considerable sway in certain pockets of the state, has threatened the Congress, saying it will have to pay a heavy price for the Guna episode. Lok Sabha seat-wise mapping of vote shares in the Assembly elections shows more votes were polled in favour of the Congress in three parliamentary constituencies – Bhind, Dewas and Ujjain, while the BJP is ahead in Tikamgarh. The Congress is yet to register a win from the Tikamgarh seat, which was carved out after delimitation of constituencies in 2008. BJPs Virendra Kumar Khatik, a Union minister, has held the seat for the last decade. However, Khatik faces a formidable challenge this time as the BJPs margin in the constituency saw a downward spiral from two lakh votes in 2014 to about 37,700 in last years state polls. Congress has not won Ujjain seat of Malwa region since 1989, except in 1999 when Premchand Guddu, now a BJP member, pulled off a victory. In 2014, the BJP won the seat by margin of about three lakh. However, in the state polls, Congress got 1,400 votes more than the BJP in the seat. Dewas, which came into being following the 2008 delimitation, is witnessing an interesting fight this time as both the BJP and the Congress have fielded non-politico candidates. Congress has given ticket to folk singer and Padma awardee Prahlad Tipaniya against BJPs Mahendra solanki, who quit as a civil judge in Bhopal to fight the elections. After winning the seat in 2009, the Congress lost to the BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha election by a margin of over 2.60 lakh votes. The Congress has also reversed its fortunes in the Bhind Lok Sabha seat, which the BJP had won by margin of 1.59 lakh votes in 2014. The grand old party polled about 99,000 more votes than the BJP in the seat during the state elections. Congress performed well in last years Assembly elections on seats under these four Lok Sabha segments. Dalits are fed up with the BJP due to its apathy towards them. The BJPs functioning is unconstitutional, Mahendra Bauddh, state Congress Scheduled Caste cells chief, told PTI. On Mayawati, he said, It is being seen in the media at present. But will see when polling date nears. The party plans to fly Udit Raj, the MP who switched over to the Congress from the BJP, from Delhi to campaign in the state. Lal Singh Arya, the former state minister for Scheduled Caste Welfare and a well-known Dalit face of the BJP, however, expects reversal of the Assembly elections results. In just four months, the Dalits and other people are saying that they were cheated by the Congress. The BJP has given them concrete houses, toilets, health facilities under Ayushman Bharat but they are still deprived of getting benefit of agriculture loan waiver as announced by the Congress, Arya said. He said the rampant power cuts during past four months have also created disillusionment against the Congress among the people. There is a Modi wave, because of development and the surgical strike, he claimed. Polling in Tikamgarh and Bhind is scheduled on May 6 and May 12, respectively. Dewas and Ujjain will vote in the last phase of Lok Sabha elections on May 19.