Shivpuri, once the summer capital of the Scindia royals, is again bracing for an electoral contest involving scion Jyotiraditya Scindia who believes his "spider" act of creating a web of development in the area would sail him through the fifth time against his former aide who is being called a "BJP rider".
A number of voters in the Guna constituency comprising Guna, Shivpuri and Ashok Nagar districts, a pocket borough of the Scindias for decades, say the Congress candidate is very strong owing to his deep family ties in the region, whereas the BJP has fielded a lightweight candidate in K P Yadav, an MBBS doctor.
The 48-year-old Congress general secretary is, however, leaving no stone unturned and holding as many as 9-10 election meetings every day to ensure a higher winning margin, that dipped by over a lakh in the last polls.
"I have created a web of good roads for you like a spider...not a single voter should be left out this time and you should ensure that this area creates history not only in MP but the entire country," the sitting Member of Parliament says while addressing a poll meeting in Malhavni village of Shivpuri District.
"I take every election seriously and I believe every election must be fought based on certain principles. I talk about my development and I talk about what I have done. I run a very positive campaign and I don't believe in decrying my opponent," the Congress leader, an MBA from Stanford University, told PTI during the campaign.
The four-time MP tells voters that he brought a medical college in Shivpuri worth Rs 225 crore, the lone NTPC engineering college in the country in Shivpuri that was made for Rs 125 crore and a spice park built at a cost of Rs 50 crore in Guna.
"I constructed a road bypass worth Rs 65 crore for Guna city, I have built Gwalior-Shivpuri-Guna-Dewas highway of 425 kms for Rs 3,900 crore and many other roads in the interiors. I have brought 40 trains to my constituency and a number of Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalalays," he says.
The Congress leader also asks voters that as they signed off 'mama' from the state (former MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan) in last year's assembly polls, they should now remove 'nana' (PM Narendra Modi) from Delhi.
"If Shivraj Singh ji calls himself mama so Modi ji is elder to him and we have to be respectful towards him. So it's from the point of view of higher degree of respect. I can't call him (Modi) kaka," Scindia reasons when asked why was he addressing the prime minister as 'nana' (grandfather).
Devdhar Raikwar, an insurance agent in Guna, says he travels to other cities in the state and nearby Rajasthan owning to work and family ties and he finds that his region is better placed.
"There can be more development in this area, no doubt. Guna, Shivpuri and Ashok Nagar can be like Bhopal but at least there are better roads and train connectivity here as compared to cities nearby," the 41-year-old says.
The BJP had promised they would field a "tagda" (strong) candidate from the seat to challenge Scindia but they did not do so. Only a few prominent leaders of the party such as Rajnath Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Yogi Adityanath have come till now to campaign for Yadav, who was till recently the sitting MP's teammate, said Muniraj (63), a retired teacher and an old resident of Shivpuri.
Yadav (45) joined the BJP last year after he rebelled against the Congress as he was not given the ticket to contest the Assembly polls.
He contested the Mungaoli bypoll on a BJP ticket and lost by a narrow margin of about 2,000 votes to the Congress candidate.
Yadav, during his campaign, talks about strengthening the hands of PM Modi to form a strong BJP government at the Centre.
This is not a contest between the BJP and the Congress but between nationalism and dynasty, Yadav says.
"The BJP surrendered before Scindia by appointing Yadav as its candidate...There is no contest between the two and the win here would be amongst the 10 highest victory margins in the country," MP Congress spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi told PTI.
Manik Ram, a cloth merchant in Shivpuri, says Yadav is a "BJP rider" who is riding "pillion of the saffron motorcycle".
"He thought someone would drive the bike but it did not happen. As he hails from the region, he cannot be called an outsider but he is a rider," Ram said.
In the last two elections, the BJP had fielded Jaibhan Singh Pavayya and Narrotam Mishra, both from outside the constituency.
In Dabiyajagan village, Scindia thanks people for getting his party 26 of the 34 Assembly seats of the Gwalior-Chambal region in the recently held polls but reminds that there was "some deficiency" of votes that went to him from the area in the 2014 polls and hence they should pledge to give their full support to him this time.
"It hurts when I work hard for my family but do not get the expected support," the former Union minister said.
This seat and that of Chief Minister Kamal Nath's in Chhindwara were untouched by the "Modi wave" of 2014 when 27 out of the 29 seats in the state were bagged by the BJP.
Scindia won by a margin of over 1.20 lakh votes in 2014 and by over 2.49 lakhs in the 2009 general elections. Out of the eight assembly seats under this parliamentary constituency, four each were won by the BJP and the Congress in 2018.
Guna, with over 16 lakh voters, votes on May 12.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)