Cong, BJP locked in two-way fight

The Lok Sabha constituencies of Bhind and Morena abutting the historic Gwalior city, which go to polls on Thursday, are bracing for a stiff two-way contest between the Congress and the BJP.

The grand old party has fielded sitting members of Madhya Pradesh Assembly against Bhagirath Prasad and Anoop Mishra, nephew of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee respectively in the twin constituencies.

The Congress was left in a state of shock when the bureaucrat-turned-politician Bhagirath Prasad left the party to join the BJP after the AICC announced him as the party candidate from Bhind. He is the BJP candidate from the same constituency.

The party, however, recovered from the shock and fielded sitting Dabra MLA Imarti Devi to replace Prasad, who was once close to AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh.

Imarti Devi won the Dabra Assembly seat by a margin of over 35,000 votes in the December 2013 elections.

In neighbouring Morena, Mishra is facing a Congress veteran Govind Singh, the sitting MLA from Lahar Assembly segment. Bhind borders Etawah in Uttar Pradesh, while Morena is nestled besides Dholpur in Rajasthan. Both constituencies are notoriously backward, with health and sanitation posing serious problems to the local people.

Successive governments in the state have ignored the region – which falls under the Gwalior-Chambal belt – under the pretext of being dominated by the infamous dacoits controlling the Chambal ravines. Even the few industries located in the constituencies are closer to Gwalior.

Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Narendra Singh Tomar represents Morena in the outgoing 15th Lok Sabha, but he was shifted to neighbouring Gwalior due to the strong anti-incumbency mood.

Mishra, who lost the Assembly elections in December, is considered a weak candidate.

The BSP has fielded Vrindavan Singh Sikarwar, a well known social activist, making it a three-way contest in Morena. In Bhind, Imarti Devi has caught the voters’ attention by her unique campaigning style. She has launched a door-to-door campaign and touches the feet of the elders with an appeal to vote for her, forcing her BJP rival to follow suit, albeit grudgingly. Sitting MP Ashok Argal has stayed away from campaigning, pleading that he could never canvass for a man he defeated in 2009.

Argal had won from Bhind by a margin of 21,000 votes against Prasad, the then Congress candidate.

Hoping to benefit from Bhind’s proximity to Etawah, the stronghold of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party has fielded Anita Chowdhary.

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