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BJP seeks to blunt Congress edge seen in state polls

​​In Ujjain, the BJP candidate Prof Chintamani Malviya defeated Premchand Guddu of the Congress by more than 300,000 votes.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 09, 2019, 10.50 AM IST
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Battle in the temple town
UJJAIN: When the BJP pocketed 25 of the 29 seats of Madhya Pradesh during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the saffron surge was more pronounced in the 10 reserved constituencies where the party secured greater vote share than in general category seats.

In Ujjain – the temple town revered as the land of Shiva and a constituency reserved for the Scheduled Castes – the BJP candidate Prof Chintamani Malviya defeated Premchand Guddu of the Congress by more than 300,000 votes.

But, shaken by the assembly election debacle less than six months ago, the BJP dropped Malviya to field Anil Firojiya, who had lost the Tarana assembly seat by a thin margin of 2,200 votes. Not everyone is impressed by the BJP’s choice of candidate, though.

Bhola Malviya, a cab driver hailing from Tarana, said the party could have done better than picking Firojiya as its candidate for the general election. In a constituency with more than 1.5 million voters, Malviyas – who belong to the Balai community among Scheduled Castes – play an influential role since they account for around 300,000 votes, followed by about 250,000 votes of Ravidas community.

A split in votes appears imminent, said the cab driver, not only because the Congress has pitted former state minister Babulal Malviya but also because of Firojiya’s anti-Malviya rant during the 2018 assembly election, owing to which he was asked to leave a village.

Like elsewhere, the BJP is contesting the election here on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government’s performance, said Indraneeel Basu, a financial consultant who moved to the city from Mumbai three years ago.

Basu said that though people had voted the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government out late last year because of strong anti-incumbency against party MLAs, they are willing to give Modi another chance to lead the nation.

He said most people are least interested in the contestants and they are voting for the BJP because of Modi.

Ramchandra Chaudhary of Bathod village and plumber Lokendra Singh are also rooting for Modi because they got houses, under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, and toilets during the term of the Modi government. The lack of a credible alternative face at the Centre has also left voters with little choice, said both Chaudhary and Singh while pitching for Modi.

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Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s repeated attempts to keep alive India’s air strike in Pakistan following the terrorist attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, however, does not seem to have captured the minds of people in the religious city of Mahakal which is still warming up to the polls scheduled for the last phase on May 19.

Out of the eight assembly seats in the Ujjain Lok Sabha constituency, the Congress won five in the 2018 state polls which gave the party a firm footing to put up a good fight in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls, with the farm loan waiver implemented by the new Congress generating a palpable buzz among farmers in the state.

Frequent power cuts which did not happen during the previous BJP regime have, however, given people a talking point against the new government since Madhya Pradesh was a surplus power producing state.
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