Kamal Nath Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News Archive

Bhopal: Congress stalwart and Union minister Kamal Nath is facing the toughest battle of his life in Chhindwara Lok Sabha (Parliament) constituency in the state of Madhya Pradesh. However, history proves that Chhindwara is one of the safest seats for the ruling Congress party.

After the debacle in state assembly elections of 2013 in Madhya Pradesh, Congress is looking for heavyweights like Kamal Nath to win, while state Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is hoping to accomplish Mission-29 by ensuring Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins all the 29 seats in the state. Out of 17 Lok Sabha elections held here so far, Congress has managed to win on all occasions except one.

Kamal Nath has been representing this seat since 1980. But he lost in 1997 in a by-election to a senior BJP leader and former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Sundarlal Patwa. This time Kamal Nath will be pitted against former minister in the state and sitting member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Chhindwara Chaudhary Chandrabhan Singh.

Kamal Nath said, “The people of Chhindwara have always extended their support to me and this time it is no different. I am banking on the development works I have undertaken in the area over the years. And I have faith in the people of the constituency.”

Even local people from Chhindwara cannot deny the fact that Kamal Nath has done a lot for the development of the area. “We believe that he has been instrumental in bringing various industries to Chhindwara. Besides, he has also been involved in infrastructure development in the constituency,” said Shahid Khan, a local who had voted in last five elections.

However, BJP candidate Chaudhary Chandrabhan Singh is all out to challenge Kamal Nath with Modi wave in Hindi belt. He is upbeat after his recent win in state assembly election from Chhindwara by a margin of 24,778 votes. He defeated Deepak Saxena, Congress candidate and close confidant of Kamal Nath.

“Now people are questioning him (Kamal Nath) about his absence from the constituency in the last five years. He has failed to do anything concrete for the area. We could see Modi wave all over the state and this time people are going to vote for the change and for betterment of the area,” said Chaudhary Chandrabhan Singh of the BJP.

Riding on the popularity wave of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, BJP workers hope that the outcome this time in Chhindwara is going to be different and BJP is all set to wrest this seat from the Congress.

“The situation has completely changed in the last few months, people now want change and we would definitely like to see a new member of parliament (MP) from Chhindwara,” said Amit Sahu of Chhindwara. He further said, “We would definitely like to give NarendraModi a chance and our vote is going to be for development and against Kamal Nath.”

Seven state assembly constituencies come under ChhindwaraLok Sabha constituency. In the last assembly elections, BJP had won 4 out of 7 assembly seats including Junnardeo, Chaurai, Chhindwaraand Saunser. The Congress won only Amarwada, Parasia and Pandurna assembly seats.

However, political analyst Girija Shankar said, “BJP cannot deny the power of Kamal Nath. Chhindwara has been a Congress bastion and it is hard for anyone to defeat a person like Nath who has nurtured his constituency for long. He knows the pulse of his people and it would be too early to say that his legs are not firm on election ground.”