Anti-incumbency unlikely to rock Chouhan's Budhni

Anti-incumbency unlikely to rock Chouhan's Budhni

Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

In a quirk of irony, the railway tracks that connect Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan’s constituency of Budhni to Mumbai and Delhi have divided the residents into two territories and residents are unhappy that despite pursuing it for two decades, the demand for an underpass has not been met.

Citing the Dussehara disaster at Amritsar, where a moving train mowed festival revellers, residents argue that a tragedy is in the waiting as hundreds of students and residents from Budhni cross the railway lines daily to go to the other side to their institutions or factories.

"The only other way is to travel via road and reach Mana through Hoshangabad. A distance of 500m will take a journey of 10 km. So, people prefer crossing the railway line. Every morning, streams of children cross the tracks on the busy rail traffic route risking their lives. Our constituency is represented by Chief Minister Shivraj Chouan and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (in Lok Sabha) but this small demand is not being met," says Surjeet Rajput.

There are also complaints that there is no proper X-ray machine at the Primary Health Centre in Budhni and despite factories dotting the constituency, local youths do not get jobs.

Then why is Chouhan still such a force in Budhni?

"We get 24-hour power, roads are clean and wide. And above all we are happy that we are electing the chief minister," says Vikas Pandey, a youth who spoke to DH about the problem's constituencies.

This is fourth time Chouhan is contesting from Budhni, having won it earlier in 1990, 2006 and 2013.

"If BJP fields a candidate other than Chouhan, the party will definitely lose now," said Deepak, another youth.

However, while there is no strong sentiment against the chief minister himself, fatigue seems to have set in against 15 years of BJP rule.

Not that the chief minister is not aware of the changing winds. For the first time, even though Chouhan himself is not campaigning in Budhni, his wife and son will be on a door-to-door campaign mode.

This week both had to face the ire of villagers during the campaign, which Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has interpreted as showing a decline in Chouhan's popularity.

The Congress has fielded former Union Minster and two-term Lok Sabha MP Arun Yadav from the seat, who seems to be clear about his fate even as his supporters flag "rising anger" against Shivraj.

It's not going too well for Yadav. A video, in which a group of villagers from the constituency repeatedly ask why they should vote for the Congress and shout slogans in Chouhan's favour, has gone viral.

While this has led some BJP leaders to declare that Chouhan will top his 2013 margin of 84,000, many believe that even if Chouhan wins, the margin is going to come down.

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