Congress’ internal gridlock in Sendhwa drops this ST seat in BJP’s bag
Grand Old Party got to figure how it accommodates two swords in one sheath
Sendhwa: In the past three elections to the Madhya Pradesh assembly, BJP has maintained a hold on Sendhwa, a constituency 150 km from Indore, courtesy internal disputes and rebellion among Congress workers. So much so that if one leader gets a ticket, the competitor directs all his votes to the BJP contender.
The two contenders for a Congress ticket, Gyarsilal Rawat and Sukhlal Parmar, have been at loggerheads in Sendhwa since 2003, keeping the seat elusive for the Congress in the last three elections.
What is ironical is the claim of locals that in terms of the electorate, Sendhwa is a favourable ground for the Congress, due to tribal connection of its candidates. The ST reserved seat primarily has two communities - Barela and Bhilala. The seat claimants - Rawat and Parmar who come from the Barela community - are engaged deep into a rivalry, to the extent that if one of them is given a ticket for Sendhwa, the other one is said to have directed all their cadres towards the BJP candidate.
Rivals know united they stand
BJP’s Antar Singh Arya had managed to bag this Congress bastion seat in 2003 with 32,000 votes because of this feud between the two groups in the Congress party.
“Because of internal politics and groupism in the party, the seat went into BJP’s hands and this is the main reason for losing the seat. If Sendhwa Congress leaders join hands, we will easily win this seat,” says Sukhlal Parmar, former president of the Barwani district Congress committee. “In 2013 as well, the party gave a ticket to a weak candidate due to which we lost for the third time in a row,” he adds.
Former MLA Gyarsilal Rawat, however, is very confident of securing a ticket this time. He claims, “There were some issues in the past, but we are all together now and will definitely win the elections this time,” he said.
Locals claim that Antar Singh Arya of the BJP and Rawat from Congress in contest for Sendhwa had both emerged as influential leaders of their parties when they were given tickets in 1990. Rawat was a young leader who came into mainstream politics after emerging victorious in college elections. He, however, lost that election to Arya by 3,907 votes.
In 1993 and 1998, Rawat played his cards well and bagged the seat with a margin of 6,472 and 3,083 votes, respectively. The BJP government in MP was dissolved in 1992 in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid riots.
However, in the early 90s, when Sukhlal Parmar, a businessman working with the Congress, moved to Sendhwa, a new political dimension emerged in the constituency over the years. After he failed to bag a Congress ticket in 2003, Parmar contested the elections with NCP’s backing and managed to swing a significant number of votes, approximately 24,078 to his side. He lost by a narrow margin, but secured almost as many votes as Rawat, who had lost the election to Arya by a margin of over 30,000 votes the same year.
In 2008, Parmar bagged the Congress ticket from Sendhwa pushing Rawat aside, which resulted in Rawat retaliating by directing his vote bank, the Barela community, towards Arya, who won by a margin of 12,818 votes. The locals claim that Antar Singh Arya and Gyarsilal Rawat both belong to the Barela community and are distant relatives.
No hope when rivals out of fray
A familiar belief among the Barela community is that if Rawat doesn’t get a Congress ticket from his party for Sendhwa, he swings the vote in the direction of nemesis Arya.
The rivalry came to be so popular that the Congress decided in 2013 to award the Sendhwa ticket to an entirely new face - Dayaram Bata. President of Krishi Mandi, a farmer’s market, Bata was given the ticket against popular expectant Bhuvan Singh, whom the state leadership had readied. Congress leaders in Delhi had cancelled Singh’s ticket after being informed about a rape charge against him and had asked state leadership to replace him the same day. Since Bata was not a known face, BJP secured an easy win in 2013.
While the Congress was expected to release its first list of candidates for MP assembly polls on Wednesday (which was not released till the time of writing), it will be interesting to see how the party handles the gridlock in Sendhwa, which tends to harm it no matter who the nominated candidate be.
Talking about the incumbent’s chances in Sendhwa, BJP district president, S Veera Swami, said, “The party and MLA has done a lot of work in these years for farmers, youths and the locals, and I am sure this year we will win by a margin of 40,000 votes. There might be some problems in Congress, but BJP has always been a strong party. There is no contest on this seat for Antar Singh Arya.”
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