16 Apr 2024

Lok Sabha Elections-2024: Can Kamal Nath Secure Family's Political Legacy in Chhindwara or Will Confident BJP Prevail?

Madhya Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections-2024: Chhindwara, a fiercely contested Lok Sabha constituency in Madhya Pradesh, stands as a fortress for the Congress, having been won by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) only once since 1951. However, this year, Nakul Nath, the scion of veteran Congress leader Kamal Nath, faces an uphill battle to maintain the family's political legacy amidst a wave of defections within his own party.

Prominent among the Congress leaders who defected to the BJP are two former MLAs, current legislator and tribal leader Kamlesh Pratap Shah, Chhindwara's mayor Vikram Ahakey, local municipal council chairman Ujjawal Singh Thakur, along with seven municipal corporators.

Nakul Nath, pitted against BJP's Vivek Bunty Sahu, has struck an emotional chord with voters, lamenting the departure of many close associates to the BJP. "The people of Chhindwara are like family to us, and together, we are fighting against betrayal and deceit," he asserted during a public address.

However, skepticism looms over the Nath family's commitment to the Congress, exacerbated by speculation in early March regarding their potential defection to the BJP. Nakul Nath's removal of Congress affiliation from his social media profile fueled these speculations further. Dismissing these rumors, Nath clarified, "The change in bio was a routine matter, and media speculation about us leaving Congress was baseless."

'Nath's core team has been extending steadfast support'

A senior Congress leader exudes confidence in the party's triumph. He said Nath's core team has been extending steadfast support to Kamal Nath and team members are making relentless efforts to secure victory. "Despite defections, our dedicated workers remain committed to the enduring legacy of Kamal Nath and Nakul Nath in Chhindwara," the leader affirmed.

Vijay Chaure, the Congress MLA from Sausar, said, “BJP is conspiring against Nakul Nath, but they won’t be successful as the voters of Chhindwara are wise enough to understand it. Nobody can deny the work done by Congress here in Chhindwara.”

Cong continues to highlight Chhindwara development model 

On the ground, the Congress champions the development model established by Kamal Nath, boasting of industrial investments from companies like Hindustan Unilever and Raymond. Kamal Nath, in a rally supporting his son, reiterated his unwavering dedication to Chhindwara's progress, emphasizing his sacrifices for the district's development.

Top BJP leaders campaigning in Nath's bastion

In contrast, the BJP, buoyed by the vigorous campaigning in the constituency by top leaders including Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav and former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, is resolute in challenging the Nath dynasty. The BJP's electoral strategy revolves around exposing the personal wealth of Kamal Nath and his son, branding it as symbolic of dynastic politics.

BJP claims Nath insulted tribals

The BJP is also trying to make Nakul Nath’s remarks against Kamlesh Shah, a Congress MLA who joined the BJP on March 29, as a key election issue claiming that he insulted tribals. Nath had said that tribals are innocent and of simple nature who cannot be sold out. “But your elected MLA (Kamlesh Shah) turned out to be traitor and sold himself. I know you are intelligent enough and will vote one-sidedly to teach him lesson,” Nath had said on April 3.

CM Yadav said Nath was crying foul to save his seat, but in the process insulted Shah and tribals. “If he had worked hard, he should not be crying. Kamal Nath and his family has not allowed a common person of Chhindwara to contest from there,” Yadav said. Nath responded by saying that calling a traitor ‘a traitor’ is not an insult to the tribal community.

Voters are in a dilemma

Meanwhile, voters are in a dilemma. Acknowledging Kamal Nath's contributions to local development, they also weigh the promises of the BJP. "It's a tough choice," reflects Ajay Vishwakarma, a farmer, while Pravesh Kumar, a shopkeeper, underscores the imperative of voting for development.

Munna Bhai, another farmer from Pipariya Birsa village, acknowledged Kamal Nath's efforts in improving local infrastructure and attracting multinational companies, noting his significant contribution to Chhindwara. However, he expressed mixed feelings, citing the appealing promises made by the BJP-led state and central governments."

Manish Raghuvanshi, a student from Pandhurna town, lamented the lack of development in Chhindwara, attributing it to the opposition party holding the MLAs and MP positions. He emphasized the importance of voting strategically for progress in the upcoming elections.

With 1.6 million voters, Chhindwara remains a pivotal battleground. Despite the Congress's sweep in the 2023 assembly elections, the BJP eyes a resurgence, capitalizing on past victories and leveraging the electorate's aspirations for change.

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