The Indore Parliamentary constituency will enter the record books if veteran BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan wins the seat for the eighth consecutive time.
She would better CPM leader Geeta Mukherjee’s record, wherein she had represented the Panskura Parliamentary constituency for seven consecutive terms in the Lok Sabha.
For 70-year-old Mahajan, the challenge in Indore is formidable. The Congress has pitted Satyanarayan Patel, who was defeated in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections by 11,000 votes.
The margin of victory has been a matter of concern for Mahajan as Indore is considered a BJP stronghold. The Aam Aadmi Party has fielded lawyer and social activist Anil Trivedi, who has launched a door-to-door campaign in urban areas and has also toured the rural parts.
Mahajan, popularly known as ‘Tai’ (elder sister), is banking on her own image, the BJP’s victory in the Assembly elections and the aggressive campaign launched by prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. In the December Assembly elections, the BJP had won seven of the eight constituencies that form the Indore Parliamentary seat.
The Modi effect has also united the warring factions of the BJP in the city, led by former state minister Kailash Vijaywargiya and Ramesh Mendola.
The fall in the margin of Mahajan’s 2009 win was attributed to the running feud she had with the two leaders.
“The BJP enjoys a lead of three lakh votes if one adds up the votes polled in the eight Assembly constituencies,” Deepak Vijaywargiya, a senior leader in the Madhya Pradesh BJP told Deccan Herald. He said the initiatives taken by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan during his seven-year tenure, including one which enables the poor to undertake pilgrimages to religious places, had struck a chord with the people.
He had also provided interest-free loans and electricity at a lower rate to farmers, Vijaywargiya said, adding that 28 lakh hectares of land was brought under irrigation during the 10-year BJP rule.
Patel, the Congress candidate, was elected through the US-styled primaries conducted in Indore. Congress sources admitted that Patel’s campaign had initially not received the expected response.
However later, Indore witnessed visits by several high-profile leaders, including AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. Actors Nagma and Ameesha Patel also added to the glamour quotient to shore up the flagging campaign. Indore goes to polls on April 24.