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MP Elections 2023: All 230 Seats Are Hotly Contested, But These 6 Stand Out

Analysts told The Quint that the state isn't heading towards either a BJP or Congress sweep.

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Madhya Pradesh is all set to witness a largely bipolar battle between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress as voting began in the state on Friday, 17 November.

The state is home to 5.6 crore voters distributed across 230 constituencies – with 2.88 crore male and 2.72 crore female voters. Besides an extensive focus on women voters by both the parties, another demographic under the spotlight are the farmers with nearly 150 constituencies covering Madhya Pradesh's rural areas.

Catch LIVE updates of election day in Madhya Pradesh here.

With challenges existing for both the Congress and the BJP, analysts and political experts told The Quint that the state might be heading towards neither a BJP nor a Congress sweep.

In the early leg of the elections, the BJP lagged due to anti-incumbency against four-term Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, allegations of corruption, and the issue of unemployment, among others. The Congress, on the other hand, looked stable with its two stalwarts – former chief minister and Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh and Congress President and former chief minister Kamal Nath – joining hands early on.

However, the BJP, as per political analysts, "stabilised itself" as Chouhan, who was being sidelined by the central leaders to counter the anti-incumbency sentiment, announced the cash transfer scheme – the Ladli Behna Yojana.

For both the parties, all 230 seats are hot and tough, but a few constituencies stand out. What are these – and why the contest will be closely watched? The Quint breaks down.

MP Elections 2023: All 230 Seats Are Hotly Contested, But These 6 Stand Out

  1. 1. Kamal Nath’s Chhindwara

    Kamal Nath, the incumbent MLA from Chhindwara, faces a formidable challenge from BJP candidate Vivek Bunty Sahu –backed by the BJP's well-oiled campaigning. Both candidates are emphasising their religious affiliations, with Kamal Nath portraying himself as a 'Hanuman bhakt' and Sahu as a 'Shiv bhakt'.

    The BJP aims to dethrone the Congress President, highlighting his absence from Chhindwara during his tenure.

    The BJP's campaign has also attempted to portray Kamal Nath as "anti-women" by highlighting a historical incident where he made his wife Alka resign in 1997 to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Chhindwara. In that bypoll, Kamal Nath lost to former chief minister and BJP stalwart Sunder Lal Patwa.

    In contrast, Sahu has emphasised on the BJP’s pro-women Ladli Behna Yojana. As the scheme gained momentum, the Congress has promised a Nari Samman Yojana, promising to pay Rs 1,500 to every woman in the state, if the party forms the government post-results on 3 December.

    In addition, the party has also announced continuing with their loan waiver scheme, subsidised gas cylinders, and electricity.

    Expand
  2. 2. Narendra Singh Tomar’s Dimani

    Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar – the BJP's campaign committee chairman for Madhya Pradesh polls – has been fielded from Dimani in Morena district, reportedly to counter the anti-incumbency sentiments against the BJP government, giving voters another face to associate with.

    However, the tactic seems to have misfired as the Congress managed to pin him down in his constituency amid purported videos of Tomar’s son Dileep Tomar discussing money-transfers worth crores. The Congress has alleged corruption and demanded an inquiry into the matter.

    Dimani was a reserved SC seat until 2008, traditionally won by BJP candidates. However, delimitation favoured Tomars, a Thakur sub-caste.

    Ravindra Singh Tomar of the Congress won the by-elections necessitated after the defection of incumbent MLA Girraj Dandotiya along with other Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists. Ravindra Singh Tomar defeated Dandotiya by over 2,600 votes.

    The Congress has fielded Ravindra Singh against Narendra Singh Tomar, making it a Tomar vs Tomar battle.
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  3. 3. Ajay Singh Rahul’s Churhat

    Merely 25 km from Sidhi – which came under the spotlight recently after an alleged video showing a BJP leader urinating on a tribal man surfaced online – lies Churhat, which was once a Congress stronghold and bastion of former MP chief minister and Congress leader Arjun Singh.

    The seat is witnessing a strong contest between incumbent BJP MLA Shardendu Tiwari and Arjun Singh's son Ajay Singh. Tiwari defeated Ajay Singh in 2018, ending his four-time streak from Churhat.

    The Brahmin vote, a significant factor in this region, becomes pivotal, with Tiwari strategically addressing the concerns of the community, including building of roads and a bridge over the Son river.

    Locals told The Quint that Ajay Singh lost in 2018 only because of his absence from the constituency. Meanwhile, political circles are rife with speculation that Ajay Singh will get a prominent ministerial birth if the Congress is elected to power.

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  4. 4. Narottam Mishra’s Datia

    Datia is another VIP seat of Madhya Pradesh, hosting state Home Minister and BJP leader Narottam Mishra. Mishra is a six-time MLA who has won his last three elections from the Datia seat.

    In 2023 elections, Mishra and the Congress's Rajendra Bharti are facing each other for the fourth time.

    Initially, the Congress gave the ticket to Avadhesh Nayak – a former RSS leader and close associate of Mishra who switched to the Congress – but later, they changed their candidate and gave the ticket to Bharti.

    Bharti has consecutively lost three elections in 2008, 2013, and 2018. However, the results of the 2018 elections showed Mishra's winning margin drop, with Bharti giving a tough fight to Mishra, who barely managed to win his seat by a margin of 2,656 votes.

    The Brahmin community, constituting 30,000 votes, is pivotal in the constituency with 190,905 registered voters. Upper-caste Brahmins and Thakurs form 22 percent, OBCs account for 50 percent, and SC/ST/minorities make up 28 percent.

    Mishra has courted several controversies over his remarks on Bollywood films, Hindutva, and his anti-Muslim stance. Meanwhile, the fight has only become tougher for him with Bharti finding support from Nayak.

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  5. 5. Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Budhni

    Budhni – considered to be Shivraj Singh Chouhan's pocket borough in the state – is a key constituency because Chouhan doesn’t campaign in this seat. Despite this, there's no evident anger or protests.

    The Congress has fielded film actor Vikram Mastal, who played Hanuman in the 2008 Ramayana reboot, against Chouhan who was elected from Budhni for the first time in 1990.

    The Samajwadi Party has also fielded 'Vairagyanand Giri ka Mirchi Baba' who gained prominence after being given a minister-rank position in the Chouhan government, followed by his switch to the Congress and later on the allegations of rape on him.

    Analysts told The Quint that the state isn't heading towards either a BJP or Congress sweep.

    He was acquitted of the charges in September 2023, after being lodged in jail for around a year.

    Expand
  6. 6. Kailash Vijayvargiya’s Indore 1

    Indore 1 is one of the eight 'expenditure-sensitive' constituencies, witnessing a tough fight between the BJP's National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and incumbent Congress MLA Sanjay Shukla.

    Despite Vijayvargiya’s outright comment expressing his reluctance to contest in the Assembly elections, the seat, which was considered easy for the BJP candidate, is witnessing a tough fight.

    With around 50,000 migrant voters, mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who are expected to play a crucial role, both the candidates are targeting the issues of illegal colonies, drug addiction, and slums – emphasising on the need for development.

    The seat has seen a rise of approximately 34,000 voters in the last five years, totalling 3.63 lakh electors, representing diverse demographics. Both major political parties are prioritising the migrant voters, with the Congress organising Priyanka Gandhi's roadshow and the BJP featuring MP and Bhojpuri superstar Manoj Tiwari during their campaigns.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Kamal Nath’s Chhindwara

Kamal Nath, the incumbent MLA from Chhindwara, faces a formidable challenge from BJP candidate Vivek Bunty Sahu –backed by the BJP's well-oiled campaigning. Both candidates are emphasising their religious affiliations, with Kamal Nath portraying himself as a 'Hanuman bhakt' and Sahu as a 'Shiv bhakt'.

The BJP aims to dethrone the Congress President, highlighting his absence from Chhindwara during his tenure.

The BJP's campaign has also attempted to portray Kamal Nath as "anti-women" by highlighting a historical incident where he made his wife Alka resign in 1997 to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Chhindwara. In that bypoll, Kamal Nath lost to former chief minister and BJP stalwart Sunder Lal Patwa.

In contrast, Sahu has emphasised on the BJP’s pro-women Ladli Behna Yojana. As the scheme gained momentum, the Congress has promised a Nari Samman Yojana, promising to pay Rs 1,500 to every woman in the state, if the party forms the government post-results on 3 December.

In addition, the party has also announced continuing with their loan waiver scheme, subsidised gas cylinders, and electricity.

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Narendra Singh Tomar’s Dimani

Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar – the BJP's campaign committee chairman for Madhya Pradesh polls – has been fielded from Dimani in Morena district, reportedly to counter the anti-incumbency sentiments against the BJP government, giving voters another face to associate with.

However, the tactic seems to have misfired as the Congress managed to pin him down in his constituency amid purported videos of Tomar’s son Dileep Tomar discussing money-transfers worth crores. The Congress has alleged corruption and demanded an inquiry into the matter.

Dimani was a reserved SC seat until 2008, traditionally won by BJP candidates. However, delimitation favoured Tomars, a Thakur sub-caste.

Ravindra Singh Tomar of the Congress won the by-elections necessitated after the defection of incumbent MLA Girraj Dandotiya along with other Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalists. Ravindra Singh Tomar defeated Dandotiya by over 2,600 votes.

The Congress has fielded Ravindra Singh against Narendra Singh Tomar, making it a Tomar vs Tomar battle.
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Ajay Singh Rahul’s Churhat

Merely 25 km from Sidhi – which came under the spotlight recently after an alleged video showing a BJP leader urinating on a tribal man surfaced online – lies Churhat, which was once a Congress stronghold and bastion of former MP chief minister and Congress leader Arjun Singh.

The seat is witnessing a strong contest between incumbent BJP MLA Shardendu Tiwari and Arjun Singh's son Ajay Singh. Tiwari defeated Ajay Singh in 2018, ending his four-time streak from Churhat.

The Brahmin vote, a significant factor in this region, becomes pivotal, with Tiwari strategically addressing the concerns of the community, including building of roads and a bridge over the Son river.

Locals told The Quint that Ajay Singh lost in 2018 only because of his absence from the constituency. Meanwhile, political circles are rife with speculation that Ajay Singh will get a prominent ministerial birth if the Congress is elected to power.

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Narottam Mishra’s Datia

Datia is another VIP seat of Madhya Pradesh, hosting state Home Minister and BJP leader Narottam Mishra. Mishra is a six-time MLA who has won his last three elections from the Datia seat.

In 2023 elections, Mishra and the Congress's Rajendra Bharti are facing each other for the fourth time.

Initially, the Congress gave the ticket to Avadhesh Nayak – a former RSS leader and close associate of Mishra who switched to the Congress – but later, they changed their candidate and gave the ticket to Bharti.

Bharti has consecutively lost three elections in 2008, 2013, and 2018. However, the results of the 2018 elections showed Mishra's winning margin drop, with Bharti giving a tough fight to Mishra, who barely managed to win his seat by a margin of 2,656 votes.

The Brahmin community, constituting 30,000 votes, is pivotal in the constituency with 190,905 registered voters. Upper-caste Brahmins and Thakurs form 22 percent, OBCs account for 50 percent, and SC/ST/minorities make up 28 percent.

Mishra has courted several controversies over his remarks on Bollywood films, Hindutva, and his anti-Muslim stance. Meanwhile, the fight has only become tougher for him with Bharti finding support from Nayak.

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Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Budhni

Budhni – considered to be Shivraj Singh Chouhan's pocket borough in the state – is a key constituency because Chouhan doesn’t campaign in this seat. Despite this, there's no evident anger or protests.

The Congress has fielded film actor Vikram Mastal, who played Hanuman in the 2008 Ramayana reboot, against Chouhan who was elected from Budhni for the first time in 1990.

The Samajwadi Party has also fielded 'Vairagyanand Giri ka Mirchi Baba' who gained prominence after being given a minister-rank position in the Chouhan government, followed by his switch to the Congress and later on the allegations of rape on him.

Analysts told The Quint that the state isn't heading towards either a BJP or Congress sweep.

He was acquitted of the charges in September 2023, after being lodged in jail for around a year.

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Kailash Vijayvargiya’s Indore 1

Indore 1 is one of the eight 'expenditure-sensitive' constituencies, witnessing a tough fight between the BJP's National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and incumbent Congress MLA Sanjay Shukla.

Despite Vijayvargiya’s outright comment expressing his reluctance to contest in the Assembly elections, the seat, which was considered easy for the BJP candidate, is witnessing a tough fight.

With around 50,000 migrant voters, mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who are expected to play a crucial role, both the candidates are targeting the issues of illegal colonies, drug addiction, and slums – emphasising on the need for development.

The seat has seen a rise of approximately 34,000 voters in the last five years, totalling 3.63 lakh electors, representing diverse demographics. Both major political parties are prioritising the migrant voters, with the Congress organising Priyanka Gandhi's roadshow and the BJP featuring MP and Bhojpuri superstar Manoj Tiwari during their campaigns.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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