Lok Sabha Elections 2024: In MP's Ratlam, Congress pitches jobs while BJP rides on Modi image

Both BJP and Congress are busy wooing tribals as Bhil and Bhilala communities here have a decisive role in deciding the victory of candidates.
jith Athrady
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 18:58 IST
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 18:58 IST

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Ratlam (MP): “I am going to Mumbai for construction work, there is no job in our place,” says Rama Baiga, waiting for a train at Ratlam railway station.

Native of Bajna in Ratlam district, the 26-year-old says he has been working in Mumbai for the past four years.

Like Baiga, many tribal youths from Ratlam and Jhabua districts are at the railway station to catch a train to either go to Mumbai or cities in Gujarat.

"A lot of youth from our village go to Gujarat for jobs. There are no jobs in our village,” says Juhar Singh, a tribal from Mudri village, who is awaiting the train to Surat.  

Indeed, the lack of employment in the tribal-dominated border districts of Ratlam and Jhabua forces people to go to neighbouring states, mostly Gujarat, in search of work.

Both BJP and Congress are busy wooing tribals as Bhil and Bhilala communities here have a decisive role in deciding the victory of candidates.

Migration and unemployment are major poll issues in the Ratlam (Scheduled Tribe) reserve segment, which will face elections on May 13.

The Congress is raking up farmers' problems and lack of basic infrastructures including electricity, roads and drinking water in its campaign, while the BJP is seeking votes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.

The biggest tribal leader in the region is former Pradesh Congress Committee chief Kantilal Bhuria, a Union minister in the Manmohan Singh government, who is contesting from Ratlam on Congress ticket.

He will face BJP’s Anita Nagar Singh Chouhan, wife of Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Nagar Singh Chauhan.

The BJP denied the ticket to sitting Lok Sabha member and former bureaucrat Guman Singh Damor, who defeated Kantilal Bhuria in 2019.

This seat always challenged the BJP as it was a Congress stronghold. Since 1952, Congress has won 14 times out of the 18 Lok Sabha polls held in this segment.

Bhuria, who lost in 2014 and 2019 against the BJP candidates, has represented this constituency five times. For the 73-year-old Bhuria, it is a do-or-die battle. His MLA son Vikrant Bhuria quit the Youth Congress state president post to campaign for his father.

The BJP has deputed three state cabinet ministers Nagar Singh Chauhan, Nirmala Bhuri and Chaitanya Kashyap to campaign for Anita, who holds a master's degree in law.

“Voters know how the country developed under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. So for me, winning is not an issue at all," she says.

In the 2023 Assembly elections, out of the eight Assembly segments in this Lok Sabha seat, the BJP won four seats, the Congress won three and the Bhartiya Adivasi Party bagged one.

"Ratlam youth are forced to go to other states for jobs. This is the state of affairs under the BJP rule. Whatever development happened in the tribal areas in Ratlam was done during the Congress regime," Bhuria says.

Published 11 May 2024, 18:58 IST

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