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Lok Sabha polls 2024: Kamal Nath fighting lone battle to help son win Chhindwara and protect home turf

Chhindwara is the only Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh which the BJP lost in 2019. The BJP has won from Chhindwara against the Nath family only once in the last 44 years.
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 07:19 IST
Last Updated : 17 April 2024, 07:19 IST

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Bhopal: With many of his close associates leaving his side, it is virtually a lone battle for Congress stalwart Kamal Nath to help his parliamentarian son Nakul Nath win from Chhindwara for a second time amid the BJP's aggressive push to wrest the seat.

Chhindwara is the only Lok Sabha seat in MP which the BJP lost in 2019.

As the polling date of April 19 nears, campaigning in Chhindwara seems like a family affair for Naths.

On the other side, a number of senior BJP leaders have visited the constituency to campaign for their party candidate Vivek Bunty Sahu in this prestigious seat in Madhya Pradesh's Mahakoshal region.

The BJP won from Chhindwara against the Nath family only once in the last 44 years.

Last year, Sahu was defeated by Kamal Nath in the assembly poll from Chhindwara.

MP Chief Minister Mohan Yadav, who has visited Chhindwara six times during the poll campaign, raised the issue of 'local vs outsider'. He termed Sahu a local, and Kamal Nath, who hails from a business family of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, an outsider.

Former CM Kamal Nath is countering BJP's challenge by trying to strike an emotional chord with people.

"When I used to say 44 years back that I am from Chhindwara, the people would ask where it is. Today, wherever you go, you can proudly say that you have come from Chhindwara...I dedicated my youth days to Chhindwara. Whenever I come here, I recall those days," the 77-year-old Congress leader said at a gathering recently.

Nath has also advised youngsters to ask their grandparents about the region's poor condition earlier and compare it with the development now.

Notably, no prominent national Congress leader has visited Chhindwara to campaign for Nakul Nath.

Senior journalist Rasheed Kidwai told PTI, 'Can the old warhorse pull off Chhindwara victory on his own? The opinion is divided but Kamal Nath, the nine-term MP and two-term MLA is confident of pulling off a miracle amid large scale desertions by his close associates in Chhindwara.'

He claimed Kamal Nath is counting heavily on the sympathy factor, which may work for him.

Kamal Nath's wife Alka Nath and daughter-in-law Priya Nath are also sweating it out to campaign for Nakul Nath at a time when a number of local Congress leaders have left the party.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Amarwada sitting MLA Kamlesh Shah, Chhindwara mayor Vikram Ahake, former minister Deepak Saxena, district panchayat vice president Amit Saxena, various corporators, office-bearers of municipalities, sarpanchs, and a number of Congress functionaries quit the party.

Deepak Saxena, who was a close associate of Kamal Nath, had resigned from his assembly seat in 2019 to pave the way for Kamal Nath's entry to the House after the latter became the chief minister.

State BJP spokesman Ajay Dhawle, a resident of Chhindwara, told PTI that nearly 5,000 Congress workers and leaders, including some prominent faces, joined the ruling party since the Lok Sabha polls were announced.

"The BJP is raising before the public Nakul Nath's poor track-record in the Lok Sabha. Out of the 24 lakh population (of Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat), 21 lakh have benefitted from of various schemes," Dhawle said.

BJP president JP Nadda, Union minister Anurag Thakur, state party chief VD Sharma, minister Prahlad Patel and several other leaders have visited Chhindwara to campaign for their party nominee, Dhawle said.

CM Yadav has visited this parliamentary seat six times for electioneering, he said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a roadshow in Chhindwara on Tuesday.

Former MLAs and organisation leaders have been given social responsibilities in various areas of this constituency, Dhawle said.

Senior BJP leader and state minister Kailash Vijayvargiya and Rajya Sabha member Kavita Patidar are stationed in Chhindwara to oversee the electioneering process, he said.

To counter the BJP's campaign and desertions, the Congress has been relying heavily on the works done by Kamal Nath in the last four decades.

The former CM's media adviser Piyush Babele told PTI, "Nakul Nath will win by a margin of one lakh votes. The works done by him in five years and by Kamal Nath in 40 years of his political tenure will ensure the victory. The entire Chhindwara has witnessed these development works."

He claimed that farmers have all possible amenities, and 6000-km of rural roads have been constructed in the region.

"Chhindwara is synonymous with Kamal Nath. He personally helps people towards education and health and people themselves accept this. Skill development centres of big companies have been opened, which provided employment opportunities to locals," he said.

Farming in Chhindwara has become high-tech akin to neighbouring Maharashtra, Babele said.

"No other MP does the work like Kamal Nath did for Chhindwara. He has a personal touch with the people of the region," he claimed.

The Chhindwara LS seat, a Congress citadel for four decades, has seven assembly segments across Chhindwara and Pandhurna districts, all won by the party.

Kamal Nath had won from the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat for nine-times and his son was the lone winner in 2019 for the Congress in the state, having 29 parliamentary constituencies.

The constituency has 16.28 lakh voters, including 8.22 lakh men, 8.05 lakh women and 11 third gender persons.

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Published 17 April 2024, 07:19 IST

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