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|November 18, 1998||
Kota witnesses battle for supremacy in Chhattisgarh
The move to carve out a separate Chhattisgarh state has made low-profile Kota in Bilaspur district of Madhya Pradesh a prestigious seat for both the ruling Congress and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
Both parties are busily wooing the 125,000 voters in this rural-tribal constituency which is seen as a battleground for supremacy in the politics of the proposed state.
Congress veteran Rajendra Prasad Shukla is seeking a fourth successive term from Kota which has never turned its back on a Congress candidate, not even during the anti-Congress wave of 1977.
The BJP, which has fielded Thakur Bhupendra Singh against the Congress veteran, is making all-out efforts to end the ruling party's winning streak. Shukla, with his experience, is expected to play a vital role in Chhattisgarh politics after the new state is formed.
The other candidates for Kota are Dr Urmila Marko (Gondwana Ganatantra Party), Ramayan Sharma (Ajeya Bharat Party), and two Independents.
Shukla bagged the seat for the first time in 1985, defeating Independent candidate Kedar Nath. He won again in 1990, trouncing BJP candidate Dr D P Agrawal, and completed his hat-trick in 1993, defeating Dr Bhanu Gupta (BJP) by over 13,000 votes.
In the first election in 1952, Kanshiram Tiwari (Congress) defeated Chintaman Rao (Independent). In 1962 when the constituency was reserved for scheduled tribe candidates, Congress nominee Lal Chandrashekhar defeated Dukhbhanjan Singh (Jan Sangh).
From 1967 to 1980, Congressman Mathura Prasad Dubey registered four consecutive victories. In 1967, he defeated Nand Kishore Pandey (Jan Sangh) by over 7,000 votes. He defeated another Jan Sanghi, Madan Bhaiya, by 1,743 votes in 1972.
Dubey managed to secure his hat-trick in the anti-Congress wave of 1977 when he got past Dr D P Agrawal (Janata Party) by 73 votes.
Dubey's fourth and final victory was over Kedarnath (Janata-Secular) in 1980. Since 1985, Shukla has kept the Congress flag flying in the constituency.
Earlier, Shukla had won the Lormi seat twice in 1967 and 1972. He shifted to Kota after a defeat in Lormi in 1977.
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