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|November 13, 1998||
Congress banks on backward castes in Madhya Pradesh
The ruling Congress in Madhya Pradesh has fielded more backward, scheduled caste and minority candidates for the November 25 assembly elections, compared to its arch rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Congress has 79 candidates belonging to the backward communities against 65 of the BJP. While 10 canddidates belong to the minority community in the Congress list, the BJP has only one.
Similarly, the number of scheduled tribe candidates nominated by the Congress is 79 as against 77 of the BJP.
The Congress also fielded five scheduled tribes and two scheduled caste candidates for the general seats.
As far as Muslims are concerned, there has been a continuous decline since 1956-57 when a maximum of 10 were elected. There is no Muslim in the outgoing assembly. This time, the BJP has fielded just one candidate, Moinuddin Ansari for the Burhanpur seat, while the Congress has put up six.
Neither the Congress nor the BJP have given adequate representation to women. They form less than 10 per cent of the total candidates.
The BJP fielded 29 women, including 13 belonging to scheduled tribes and five to backward communities.
The Congress, contesting 318 seats nominated 26 women candidates. Among them, 10 belong to scheduled tribes, eight to general category and four each to scheduled castes and backward communities.
The BJP entered the election fray with as many as 142 new faces after denying tickets to several sitting legislators. Only 95 of 111 MLAs have been re-nominated. Among the aspirants are 178 candidates who contested the 1993 election.
The BJP allowed Sunil Ram Teke of the Republican Party to use its symbol. He is contesting from Dongargarh in Rajnandgaon district.
Similarly, the Congress has, under an agreement, left one seat for the Republican Party of India (Khokhar).
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