4 Nov 2023

MP Elections-2023: Bhopal is BJP’s stronghold but can saffron party take it for granted this time

Bhopal: Ahead of MP Electiobns-2023, over the past three decades, Bhopal has been a stronghold for the BJP. However, in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly elections this month, the ruling party cannot take it for granted, as the Congress made significant inroads into the state capital during the last election.

In recent months, the BJP has tried to emphasize the city's historical identity, even renaming the railway station after the last Hindu ruler, Gond queen Rani Kamalapati.

Bhopal district comprises seven assembly seats, with six of them located within the city. Among these, Bhopal South-West, Bhopal North, Bhopal Central, and Narela are considered urban seats, while Huzur and Govindpura are seen as semi-urban, and Berasia is a rural constituency.

BJP secured 4 of 7 seats in 2018

In the 2018 elections, the BJP secured four seats in the district, while the Congress won three, including two seats they took from the BJP - Bhopal Central and Bhopal South-West.

The city has a significant Muslim population, and in 2018, it was the only city in the state to elect two Muslim MLAs - Arif Aqueel from Bhopal North and Arif Masood from Bhopal Central.

Bhopal North witnessing an interesting battle

Bhopal North, a traditional Congress stronghold, is witnessing an interesting political battle this time. This marks the first election since 1990 that six-time legislator Arif Aqueel is not contesting due to health reasons. The Congress has fielded his son, Atif Aqueel, as his replacement.

Arif Aqueel lost to BJP in this constituency only once

Arif Aqueel had lost to a BJP candidate in this constituency only once, in 1993, in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri mosque. However, his son may face a challenging contest, as his uncle (Arif's brother), Amir Aqueel, a former corporator, and another Congress rebel, Nasir Islam, are also contesting for the seat.

"I have served the people here for 30 years, stood with them in their difficult times. These people have now asked me to contest the election," said Amir Aqueel.

The BJP has nominated former mayor Alok Sharma, who has a political background in the walled city, which is part of the Bhopal North constituency.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has put forward former corporator Mohammad Saood as their candidate for the seat.

Although the city BJP president, Sumit Pachouri, is confident about winning all the seats in the city, he concedes that there is "tough competition" in Bhopal North, where voting patterns and issues differ.

People tend to vote along communal lines on 3 seats

According to Pachouri, Bhopal North, Bhopal Central, and Narela are the 3 seats where people tend to vote along communal lines.

On the other hand, Govindpura and Huzur are considered BJP strongholds, and the party aims to regain the Bhopal South-West seat.

Praveen Saxena, the District Congress chief, is confident that his party will sweep the state capital.

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