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|January 29, 1998|
Sarangarh: Congress man Bharadwaj's bastion
Former Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee president Parasram Bharadwaj, a five-time winner in the Lok Sabha election, is testing the electoral waters again from the Sarangarh constituency in Madhya Pradesh.
The ruling Congress has renominated Bharadwaj from Sarangarh, a constituency reserved for scheduled castes, while Bahujan Samaj Party state president Dauram Ratnakar is contesting for the fourth time. The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded P R Khute in place of Shyam Sunder Ratre, who had contested the last Lok Sabha election.
In the 1996 poll, Bharadwaj defeated Ratnakar by more than 33,000 votes. BJP nominee Shyam Sunder Ratre polled more than 112,000 votes, but was relegated to the third position.
The BJP has received a jolt when its veteran leader in the Bilaspur region, Reshamlal Jangade, deserted the party to join the Congress.
Jangade, who had contested against Bharadwaj in the 1984 and 1989 elections from Sarangarh, announced his intention to join the Congress at the public meeting addressed by Sonia Gandhi in Bhilai on January 20.
Ratnakar, who represents the Pamgarh assembly segment, tested his electoral fortunes in 1989, 1991 and 1996, but was defeated by his traditional rival, Bharadwaj.
After the Sarangarh seat came into existence in 1977, Govindram Miri (Bharatiya Lok Dal) won the election during the Janata Party wave, defeating his nearest Congress rival Gondu Prasad Anuragi by more than 12,000 votes. In subsequent elections, Bharadwaj won the seat for his party, and has retained it since.
Besides Bharadwaj, tribal leader Dalip Singh Bhuria has earned the distinction of maintaining a winning spree since the 1980 Lok Sabha election from one constituency on the same party symbol.
Bhuria, who has represented the tribal Jhabua constituency as a member of the Congress since 1980, resigned from the party recently and is contesting the seat on a BJP ticket this time.
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