Rahul set to storm BJP's Malwa citadel

Rahul set to storm BJP's Malwa citadel

Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee President Kamal Nath addresses a press conference at state party headquarters in Bhopal on Tuesday. PTI

The Malwa-Nimar region in western Madhya Pradesh, having 66 out of the total 230 seats, is considered a decider in the state's Assembly polls.

In the Congress's spectacular victory in 1985 and surprising win in the 1998 Assembly elections, the region was a significant contributor.

That is why Congress president Rahul Gandhi's two-day tour of the relatively prosperous region from October 29 holds the key for the party's comeback prospects. This will be his sixth visit to the state in a month.

During the tour, Rahul Gandhi will address seven election meetings and hold a big roadshow in Indore, the centre of the region.

The Congress has been making hectic preparations for its president's crucial Malwa tour for the last two months. Gandhi will start his tour with an elaborate puja at Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain.

State Congress president Kamal Nath says the party has kept a special focus on the region.

Of the 66 seats in Malwa-Nimar, the Congress won only nine in the 2013 election. The region has a significant concentration of tribal votes which are being eyed by a fledgling tribal outfit called Jai Adiwasi Yuva Sangthan (Jayas).

The Congress is aiming to combat the Jayas influence, as well as make inroads into the traditional saffron bastion with Rahul's tour.

For the 1985 Assembly polls, the then chief minister Arjun Singh had focused on the Malwa region. His strategy bore fruit and the Congress returned to power.

In 1998, the then chief minister Digvijaya Singh stunned the BJP by grabbing a majority of the 66 seats in the region, proving all pre-poll predictions about a BJP victory in the state wrong.

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