Jhabua, Oct 1 (IANS) The BJP has queered the pitch for the Madhya Pradesh assembly by-election to the tribal Jhabua seat by calling former Union Minister and veteran Congress candidate Kantilal Bhuria a representative of Pakistan.
The leader of opposition in the assembly, Gopal Bhargava, who started the BJP’s campaign in favour of young Bhanu Bhuria said on Monday that the by-election is going to be a battle between the supporters of India and Pakistan.
The election of a Congress candidate will send the message that the forces supporting Pakistan have won in Jhabua, Bhargava said. The video has gone viral and the Congress could lodge a complaint with the election authorities.
Polling is due in Jhabua on October 21 and the tone set by Bhargava points to a shrill campaign in the offing.
Top leaders of Congress and BJP converged on Jhabua on Monday, the last day for filing nominations. Chief Minister Kamal Nath conducted a road show before joining Kantilal Bhuria during the filing of papers, while former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan held a rally in support Bhanu Bhuria. Several members of the Kamal Nath ministry were present Jhabua on the day.
The two parties have announced a list of 40 star campaigners each for Jhabua. The Congress list includes, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Xavier Meeda who had garnered a large share of votes in the assembly elections in November last year as an independent candidate. Meeda, an aspirant for Congress ticket, has been promised a suitable reward after the elections.
The BJP has been careful by dropping the controversial MP from Bhopal, Pragya Thakur, from its list of campaigners. Bhanu Bhuria’s selection has led to the resignation of another leader Kalyan Damor from the party. The party also considered the name of former MLA Shantilal Bilwal. But there was resistance from within the district unit. Bhanu said Kalyan has agreed to campaign for him.
BJP campaigners would include its national working President, J.P. Nadda, MP BJP chief, Rakesh Singh, former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Thawar Chand Gehlot, Prahlad Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste, former Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya and former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
The tribal seat is very crucial for the Congress. The ruling Congress has 114 MLAs in the 230-member assembly- two short of majority.
With this one seat, the Congress government, supported by two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), one Samajwadi Party (SP) and four Independent MLAs would inch closer to the majority mark.
The BJP, which had won 109 seats in the 2018 Assembly elections, has 108 seats now, after Damor’s resignation.
Madhya Pradesh has a tribal population of 80.67 lakh, nearly 22 per cent of the total population. In the 2018 assembly elections, the Congress won 28 out of 47 Scheduled Tribe reserved seats in the 230-member state Assembly, up 13 from 15 in 2013.