No cakewalk for Chouhan this time

No cakewalk for Chouhan this time

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan speaks to the reporters after offering prayers along with Bhopal BJP candidates before filing their nomination papers and launch of the election campaign for state Assembly elections, in Bhopal, on Frida

Madhya Pardesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been pit against a bigger challenge— countering the Congress' caste balance in his constituency. 

The Congress has fielded Arun Yadav, former Union minister and ex-PCC president, against Chouhan in Budni Assembly constituency.

Both Arun and Chouhan, who hails from the Kirar community, belong to the Other Backward Castes— they comprise nearly 70% of Budni's voters.

While Chouhan will be busy cracking the caste equation, Arun on the other hand will have to deal with the chief minister's popularity and winning streak.

Chouhan had breezily sailed through in successive Assembly polls from Budni, 70 km south of Bhopal.

He had entered in the state Assembly for the first time in 1990 by defeating his Congress rival by a big margin. Chouhan won the 2013 election from the seat by a margin of 85,000 votes against Congress’s Dr Mahendra Singh Chouhan.

After filing nomination papers on November 6, Chouhan had told his party workers to ensure him a victory in his absence as he would be busy campaigning across the state.

With Arun’s entry in the poll arena, the chief minister might be forced to spend more time in the constituency— which may be seen as part of the Congress strategy to unseat the BJP from power in the state.

After considering the caste configurations, Arun's name was declared for the seat following a nod from Congress president Rahul Gandhi

Talking to DH, Arun said that he will focus on the reported corruption charges against Chouhan’s family members during his campaigning.

Their reported involvement in illegal sand mining along the Narmada river bank and Vyapam scam will figure prominently in the Congress attacks against the BJP candidate, he added.

To further add to Chouhan's woes, the Congress is also toying with the idea of bringing the chief minister’s estranged brother-in-law Sanjay Singh Masani to Budni to campaign for the party.

Masani, who joined the Congress last week, is the party candidate from Waraseoni seat in Balaghat district.