Madhya Pradesh Assembly Polls: Congress Candidate Sanjay Shukla To Focus On Caste Equations After BJP Fielded Kailash Vijayvargiya For Indore-1 Seat

After a hiatus of a decade, Bharatiya Janata Party's national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya (67), a former state minister hailing from the Vaishya community and originating from the Indore-2 region, has been granted a ticket by the ruling party.

BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.

The BJP's move to field its general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya from Indore-1 segment has prompted sitting MLA and Congress candidate Sanjay Shukla to rework his poll strategy to retain the seat, where caste equations are expected to play a key role in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly elections.

Former state minister Vijayvargiya (67), who belongs to the Vaishya community and hails from Indore-2 area, has been given a ticket by the ruling BJP after a long gap of 10 years.

The opposition Congress has reposed faith in Shukla (47), hailing from the Brahmin community, for the second time by fielding him from Indore-1, his native region.

The role of Brahmin and Yadav community members is expected to be significant in deciding the poll result in Indore-1 assembly seat, which comprises 3.64 lakh voters.

With the entry of BJP heavyweight Vijayvargiya into the poll battle, Shukla has to change his election strategy to retain the seat.

Sources close to Shukla said a fresh plan is being prepared by the Congress to balance caste equations in this assembly segment. Along with this, preparations are also being made for a series of meetings of the national level leaders of the opposition party.

In the election campaign, Shukla has been trying to project himself as a local leader by using the "son, not leader" phrase for himself, and terming opponent Vijayvargiya as a "guest".

However, Vijayvargiya, who earlier served as the city mayor, is projecting himself as the leader of entire Indore to counter his rival.

Known for his fondness for singing bhajans (devotional songs) at public events, Vijayvargiya is trying to win the trust of voters with promises of rapid development of Indore-1 and curbing illegal drug trade.

On the other hand, Shukla, who has organized several religious events and bhandaras (public feasts) in the last five years, is claiming to have stood by the people of his constituency in their joys and sorrows.

In his 40-year-long political career, Vijayvargiya has not lost any election so far. He won the assembly elections six times consecutively between 1990 and 2013 from different seats of Indore district.

In the 2018 polls, Shukla was the sole winning candidate of the Congress among all five seats in the urban areas of Indore. The remaining four seats were bagged by the BJP.

Shukla defeated his nearest rival BJP candidate Sudarshan Gupta by 8,163 votes in the 2018 assembly polls.

However, in the last municipal elections in 2022, Shukla had to face defeat at the hands of BJP candidate Pushyamitra Bhargava for the post of mayor.

Senior journalist and political observer Kirti Rana, while talking to PTI claimed Vijayvargiya has chief ministerial ambitions and that he has been indicating this with his statements these days.

"For instance, he said at a public event a few days ago that he was not contesting elections just to become an MLA and that the BJP would give him some bigger responsibility,” Rana noted.

But, according to Rana, Vijayvargiya also faces a number of challenges in the Indore-1 poll battle.

"The BJP high command has unexpectedly fielded Vijayvargiya as its candidate, bypassing local leaders who have been lobbying for a ticket from Indore-1 for a long time," he said.

The issue of local candidates is gaining momentum in the election this time. Therefore, if there is an "internal sabotage" at the time of voting, then Vijayvargiya may suffer a loss in the election, he claimed.

Polling for the 230-member state assembly will be held on November 17, and votes will be counted on December 3.