Caste matters most in Bundelkhand , Vindhya

Kamal Nath. PTI file photo

Caste is a prominent factor in five of the seven seats from Madhya Pradesh going to poll on May 6, scattered in three regions. Other issues, whether national or state, do influence the voters in Vindhya and Bundelkhand regions, but caste overrides them all.

Campaigning ended in these seats on Saturday evening. Two dominant castes in Vindhya are pitted against each other in Satna where the BJP has fielded its sitting MP Ganesh Singh, a Thakur,  against Brahmin billionaire Congress candidate Rajaram Tripathi.

In Rewa seat of the region, the battle is between Congress’s Siddharth Tiwari and BJP’s sitting MP Janardan Mishra, both being Brahmins.

Vindhya is known to be a strong BJP fortress, but the Congress is hopeful of winning the region, as Chief Minister Kamal Nath has virtually decimated the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) whose scheduled caste vote bank is likely to favour the Congress. A disintegrated BSP seems incapable of affecting Congress votes this time, unlike in the past.

In Bundelkhand, like Vindhya, caste is an important factor and is visible in the campaigns in Khajuraho, Damoh and Tikamgarh seats.

In Khajuraho, Congress’s Kavita Singh, member of a royal family, is eyeing her fellow Thakur community's support whereas BJP opponent V D Sharma is banking on Brahmin votes. In Damoh, sitting BJP MP Prahlad Patel and his Congress opponent Pratap Singh Lodhi hail from the same caste Lodhi, the largest community in the constituency spread in three districts.

In Tikamgarh (SC) seat, sitting MP Virendra Kumar is facing Congress’s Kiran Ahirwar, the daughter of a retired IAS officer. Rebel BJP candidate R D Prajapati, contesting on the BSP ticket, has brightened the Congress prospects.

Caste factor is not major in Betul (ST) and Hoshangabad seats in Mahakoshal region. No single caste or community has the capacity to influence the election in the two seats where the chief minister Kamal Nath wields considerable influence. Congress candidate Ramu Tekam from Betul and Shailendra Diwan from Hoshangabad are the CM’s choice. The Congress is optimistic of winning these two seats.

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