Morena: BJP relies heavily on defections to protect three-decade long stronghold | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Morena: BJP relies heavily on defections to protect three-decade long stronghold

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May 04, 2024 01:41 PM IST

Given the importance of the seat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BSP chief Mayawati and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi have held election meetings in the constituency

Morena: The 2024 general election has moved to the third phase with Madhya Pradesh’s Morena going to polls on May 7 where more than two million voters will exercise their franchise to decide the fate of as many as 15 candidates.

 (Representative Photo)
(Representative Photo)

In Morena, the spotlight will be on the Gwalior-Chambal region. A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bastion from where the party has won seven consecutive times, Morena is one of the seats where the ruling party will face a tough challenge from the opposition, including Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

In the assembly polls held last year, the BJP won 18 while Congress came in second with 16 seats.

Also Read: Priyanka Gandhi accuses Modi of indulging in divisive politics for votes, power

Given the importance of the seat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BSP chief Mayawati and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi have held election meetings in the constituency. 

Morena parliamentary constituency consists of eight assembly constituencies, including six in Morena district – Sabalgarh, Joura, Sumaoli, Morena, Dimni and Ambah (SC) and two in Sheopur district-Sheopur and Vijaypur. BJP has only three of the eight seats in the state assembly- Sabalgarh, Sumaoli and Dimni.

Dimni is represented in the state assembly by former Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar who resigned from the Morena Lok Sabha seat as a member of parliament upon getting elected to the state assembly. He is presently speaker in the Assembly.

Interestingly, the changing caste equations have kindled the hope of the BSP, which has been trying to achieve its maiden victory in this constituency. It polled third in the 2019 and second in the 2014 general election.

In the triangular contest, the BJP has fielded ex-MLA Shivmangal Singh Tomar against Congress’ Satyapal Singh Sikarwar (Neetu), both Rajputs, while the BSP has fielded local business magnate Ramesh Garg while banking upon scheduled castes and traders votes in particular. BSP is also trying to woo Gurjars and Brahmins to its side, sensing resentment among them against Rajputs.

According to the locals, caste politics will be a dominating factor in the region which goes to polls in the third phase. The changed caste equations this time for the BJP have resulted in its heavily relying on defections from Congress.

Also Read: Madhya Pradesh: Six-time Congress MLA Ramniwas Rawat joins BJP with Morena mayor

More than eight Congress leaders, including six-time MLA and former minister Ramniwas Rawat and Morena mayor Sharda Solanki, defected to the BJP in the past few days.

A BJP leader wanting anonymity said, “The party (BJP) leadership looks worried given the fact there is huge resentment brewing among Brahmins and Gurjars in particular against a BJP leader. Their grouse stems from their belief that the BJP leader used government machinery during state assembly polls to ensure defeat of BSP candidate Balbir Singh Dandotia, a Brahmin leader, from Dimni constituency and Rakesh Rustam Singh, a Gurjar leader, from Morena seat.”

Resentment among the members of two castes also stems from the fact that Rajput officials dominate the district administration and also the police holding key posts, said the BJP leader quoted above, adding that in the administration and policing, a bias is often reflected in their approach. 

Another senior BJP leader said that this election is not only a prestige issue for the party but also for Tomar, who has been MP from the seat twice.

“The party leadership is aware of the ground situation. That’s why defections from Congress are what we are banking upon. The defections have helped us in two ways- first, Congress is demoralised and there is a message among voters that the party has lost its ground, and second, the leaders who have defected are assigned the task to go and convince the members of their respective caste about their support to the BJP,” said the leader mentioned above.

Ramnaresh Yadav, a trader, said, “BSP is suddenly a force to reckon with. There are about two lakh traders in the constituency. If they go for BSP or Congress it would be a great damage to the BJP’s prospects. For, traders have been the traditional vote bank of the BJP.”

Another trader, Malkhan Singh, said, “We all want Modi ji. Ram Mandir has given us immense joy but we are against the local leadership. Corruption and want of development in Morena are major issues this time. The Agniveer scheme has disappointed the youths. A large number of youths from the region join the Army. It will also go against the ruling party.”

Will defections harm Congress’ prospects?

On this, the Congress election office, Morena in charge Gaya Prasad Sharma said, “It is nothing but a wrong notion that voters will shift with the leaders who have left. People know well that those who have left have done it to protect their business interests and properties. Priyanka Gandhi ji’s meeting held here was historical. It has boosted the morale of all of us in Congress and our victory is certain.”

However, BJP district unit media in charge Neeraj Bhadauria said, “Those who are joining the BJP know well that BJP is a nationalist party and it is the only party which is working for development of the nation.”

Political observer Awadhesh Dandotia said, “The battle is tough this time in Morena. None of the three major political parties can be sure that it will win. The last two days ahead of polls will be crucial for the parties to do whatever they can do to get the caste equations in their favour which will have a huge impact on the polls.”

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