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Congress or BJP? Which party has an edge in Madhya Pradesh this election

CM Kamal Nath's son Nakul, BJP state chief Rakesh Singh and Congress leader Vivek Tankha are among prominent faces testing their luck in this phase, the first for Madhya Pradesh

Congress, BJP
A shopkeeper poses with political parties' campaign materials ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2019, in Jabalpur | Photo: PTI

The Congress has put its best foot forward in six parliamentary seats voting on April 29 in Madhya Pradesh, a state it wrested from BJP five months ago.

The saffron party is expecting a wave similar to 2014 in its favour to sweep the state and says parliamentary and assembly polls have different dynamics.

Going by numbers and vote share in the November 2018 assembly polls, Congress appears to have an edge over its rivals on the six seats Sidhi, Mandla, Balaghat, Chhindwara, Shahdol and Jabalpur. Of these, five were won by BJP in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath's son Nakul, BJP state chief Rakesh Singh, Congress leader Vivek Tankha, former Union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste and ex-leader of opposition Ajay Singh are among prominent faces testing their luck in this phase the first for Madhya Pradesh.

The six parliamentary seats together send 47 MLAs to the Madhya Pradesh Assembly.

In the recent state polls, the Congress secured 26 of them while the BJP managed to get only 20 seats and one was won by an independent candidate (Pradeep Jaiswal from Seoni assembly seat), who later joined Congress.

It is to be seen whether the Congress will be able to repeat its performance five months ago, in the Lok Sabha polls.

Looking at the Lok Sabha seat-wise data of the assembly election's vote share, more votes polled in favour of Congress in three parliamentary seats, two of them including Mandla and Shahdol were won by the BJP in 2014.

BJP had failed to open its account in the 2018 assembly polls in seven assembly seats falling under Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat. This seat was won by Kamal Nath by a margin of 1.16 lakh in 2014.

Going by vote share in recent assembly polls, the margin further increased to 1.32 lakh in favour of Congress from this seat.

This parliamentary seat was held by the current MP chief minister for nine times and his son Nakul Nath, richest among state candidates with assets worth about Rs 660 crore, is contesting on a Congress ticket against BJP's Natthan Shah, a tribal leader.

Jabalpur's sitting MP and state BJP chief Rakesh Singh is contesting against Congress's Vivek Tankha.

In last Lok Sabha polls, Singh defeated Tankha by a margin of over two lakh votes from this parliamentary seat, consisting of eight assembly seats. In last year's assembly polls, BJP's margin reduced to over 31,800 votes.

Out of the eight assembly seats falling under Jabalpur parliamentary seat, both the parties emerged victorious on four seats each.

After tasting defeat from Churhat assembly seat, Congress leader Ajay Singh, son of Congress stalwart late Arjun Singh, is in the fray from Sidhi LS seat against sitting MP and BJP candidate Riti Pathak who had won by a margin of over one lakh in 2014.

By winning seven out of eight assembly seats, BJP maintained this margin in the assembly polls.

BJP has again fielded sitting MP and ex-Union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste from Mandla Lok Sabha seat against Congress's Kamal Maravi. BJP had managed to win only two seats and Congress six among eight assembly segments under this parliamentary constituency.

Over 1.21 lakh more votes were polled in favour of Congress cumulatively on these eight assembly seats in November 2018.

BJP's Gyan Singh had won Shahdol LS seat in 2016 by-poll, defeating Congress's Himadri Singh by a margin of over 60,000 votes. This time, Himadri Singh is contesting on a BJP ticket against Pratibha Singh, a former MLA, of the Congress.

Over 21,000 more votes were polled in favour of Congress cumulatively on eight assembly seats of Shahdol in the 2018 Vidhan Sabha election. BJP and Congress won four seats each in this LS constituency.

BJP's Bodh Singh Bhagat had won Balaghat LS seat with a margin of over 96,000 in 2014.

Changing the candidate, BJP fielded Dhal Singh Bisen this time.

Over 64,000 more votes were polled in favour of BJP cumulatively on eight assembly seats in last year's poll. But the BJP could manage to win only one seat while four were won by Congress and one by an independent among eight assembly segments of this parliamentary seat.

However, the state BJP vice-president Vijesh Lunawat claimed that his party is going to better its previous performance.

There are different dynamics of state assembly and parliamentary elections. There is a wave in favour of Narendra Modi and BJP would improve its performance not only in these six seats but in Madhya Pradesh also. We are going to win all 29 seats of state, Lunawat said, and added that the Congress has lost its ground rapidly due to poor performance after forming government in state.

State Congress spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedi said about 83 promises of manifesto were completed by the state government within three months.

Party's performance would further improve, if compared to assembly polls, in the coming election as there is strong anti-incumbency against the sitting BJP MPs. Besides, performance of the Congress government in state is also being lauded by the people, he added.

There are 29 parliamentary seats in MP, of which 27 were won by the BJP and two by Congress in 2014. Later in by-poll, one more seat (Ratlam) was won by Congress increasing its tally to three.