Madhya Pradesh's former chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Digvijay Singh are up against each other in Rajgarh where they are spearheading the electioneering to redeem their 'raj' (rule) and 'garh' (bastion), respectively.
The two former CMs have apparently taken the centre stage of the poll battle for the Rajgarh parliamentary seat, which is about 140 km north-west of Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal and located in the Malwa plateau along MP's border with Rajasthan.
While Chouhan has staked his reputation to repeat the BJP ticket to his trusted man and sitting MP Rodmal Nagar despite opposition from the cadre, Singh has placed his bet on his trusted aide and local party leader Mona Sustani, the first lady candidate of the area for the electoral race to Delhi.
"So, while Shivraj Chouhan is working to ensure and continue BJP's 'raj' or rule that began in 2014 here, Singh is determined to snatch this Congress stronghold from them to establish that this is the 'garh' or bastion of the Raghogarh royals. This is all about Rajgarh this time," he told PTI.
The Rajgarh seat falls in the royal Raghogarh region of Congress leader Digvijay Singh and he himself had represented this seat twice in Parliament while his brother Laxman Singh won it five times on the Congress ticket and once as a BJP candidate.
Nagar won this Congress bastion in 2014 by a margin of over two lakh votes.
Local BJP leaders, speaking anonymously, say Nagar was given the ticket despite objection of a large section of the party cadre and this was well informed to Chouhan.
"However, what we understand is that the BJP had no better candidate than Nagar for this seat and also that Chouhan's view prevailed. We opposed Nagar's candidature as people felt that he had not done justice to the constituency in the last five years," the BJP leader said.
Both the former CMs have put a good amount of their energy and strategy into the campaign for their chosen candidates.
Praveen Namdeo, a local Congress leader, told the news agency that Singh had accompanied Sustani when she filed her nomination and he and his son Jaivardhan have campaigned in the area for her. Sustani's family members are old Congress supporters and she is the daughter-in-law of two-time Congress MLA from the Rajgarh assembly seat, Gulab Singh Sustani.
Despite Rajgarh and Bhopal voting on the same day-- May 12-- and Singh facing a daunting challenge in the state capital after BJP declared Pragya Singh Thakur as his opponent, the senior Congress leader and former CM has taken out time to personally seek votes for her and also supervise her election campaign sitting far away.
Sustani herself admits that she is just the face and the election here is being contested by 'Raja sahab', as she refers to Digvijay Singh.
The 58-year-old Nagar, like a number of other BJP candidates in the country, talks about securing votes for himself to ensure that Modi returns as prime minister after votes are counted on May 23.
He also talks about the "clean and development-oriented work" done by Chouhan during his 15-year rule in MP that ended last year after the Congress formed government in the state after winning the assembly elections by a wafer-thin margin.
Chouhan has not only held multiple public meetings for Nagar in the area, he also has tasked a special team to carry out the campaign for the sitting MP. The former CM is keeping a close eye on the developments in this seat as he does not want that a defeat here gives critics a handle to question his choice and that the seat again falls in the hands of the Congress and Digvijay Singh, the local BJP leader said.
The former BJP CM also ensured that national president of the party Amit Shah held a rally in support of Nagar recently apart from state BJP chief Rakesh Singh and film actor and party candidate from Uttar Pradesh's Rampur, Jaya Prada, he said.
"Sustani has an edge on the seat as not only she enjoys the support of the Digvijay Singh family and supporters but also the fact that she has been the working president of the party in Rajgarh and a member of the district panchayat body," Upendra Verma, a businessman, said.
Rajgarh has about 15 lakh voters and out of its 8 assembly seats, the Congress won five, BJP two and one was won by an Independent in the polls held in November last year.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)