The Bharatiya Janata Party is confident of giving a tough fight to Union Minister Kamla Nath on his traditional Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat, drawing courage from its performance in 2013 assembly elections in which it bagged four out of seven seats from there.
Nath, Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs, is contesting for a ninth term from Chhindwara and had won the last Lok Sabha election with a margin of over 1.20 lakh votes.
While Nath is banking on his 34-year achievements and his deep relations with the people, BJP candidate and sitting MLA from Chhindwara, Choudhary Chandrabhan Singh, is pointing to the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's good governance and development to urge voters to allow the 'lotus' (BJP's poll symbol) to bloom in the constituency.
Singh, who won the assembly polls by a margin of 24,778 votes, had unsuccessfully tried his luck twice in Lok Sabha polls from the seat -- against Nath in 1991 and then against the minister's wife Alka Nath in 1996.
He has again been fielded by the BJP against Nath with a hope that he would be able to make a dent in the Congress stronghold because of the prevailing "Modi wave".
However, expressing confidence of his victory this time also, Nath said, "I have a 34-year-long relationship with the people of Chhindwara and they will again vote for Congress."
"There is no Modi wave in the country as claimed by the BJP. It will not have any impact in Chhindwara," he said.
The BJP won from Junnardeo, Chourai, Chhindwara and Saunsar seats while Congress bagged Amarwada, Parasia and Pandhurna seats in the 2013 assembly polls, giving a little edge to the saffron party.
However, in the Lok Sabha polls Chhindwara has always remained loyal to Nath, who is winning from here since 1980 and later retained the seat in 1984, 1989, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2004 and 2009, except in 1996 when his wife contested polls in place of him due to Havala case.
After his name was cleared in the case, Nath asked his wife to resign from the seat and forced a by-poll in 1997, which he lost to BJP stalwart and former Chief Minister Sunderlal Patwa by a margin of nearly 37,000 votes. But after that Nath again snatched the seat from BJP in 1998.
Since 1957, a total of 14 parliamentary polls were held in the constituency and the people of the region never disappointed the Congress, except in the 1997 by-poll.
But, this time the BJP is also confident of a favourable result.
"This time the party has ensured that lotus will bloom in Chhindwara and it will definitely decimate Nath's fort," BJP's Madhya Pradesh poll campaign in-charge Anil Dave said.
The polling will be held in Chhindwara on April 10.
Though the fight is directly between Congress and BJP in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party has also fielded former minister Mahesh Dube from the seat.
Chhindwara has a total of 14,00,830 voters. Among them 7,21,130 are men, 6,79,678 women, while 22 are categorised as "others".
Image: Kamal Nath