BJP is still looking for options to deal with challenge of West

  • Former Finance Minister Tarun Bhanot has influence here
  • Brahmin voters are in majority
  • Amidst election excitement, trend of writing Pandit in front of name rises

Avinash Dixit, Jabalpur
Since assembly elections are near, political movements have also intensified. The West Assembly seat of the district, which was the stronghold of BJP till a decade ago, is now occupied by Congress. On this unreserved seat, Tarun Bhanot, who was the Finance Minister in the Kamal Nath government, has established such dominance that it is finding it extremely difficult for the BJP to remove him.

This can also be gauged from the fact that BJP has been searching for a senior and expert leader in election strategy to compete with Tarun Bhanot for months, but its search has not been completed yet.

Tarun from Congress, BJP from…? – From the Congress camp, it is certain that only Tarun Bhanot will contest from the West seat to score a hat-trick of victory in the upcoming assembly elections. On the other hand, half a dozen leaders are staking claim from Kamal Dal, but BJP strategists do not seem satisfied with any of the names that have reached the top so far. If we believe the discussions so far regarding the contenders, then the name of BJP city president and former mayor Prabhat Sahu is being considered at the top. Although there is talk of Prabhat Sahu contesting from the North-Central Assembly seat also. Other names being discussed in the West include former IAS Vedprakash Sharma, who recently joined BJP, who has been running cleaning campaigns in Narmada banks along with successful social programs through an NGO for quite some time. Apart from this, he has also led works related to public concern. Sharma was also known for innovations during his administrative tenure, people still do comparative analysis of many of his works.

Apart from Sharma, the name of former state BJYM president and Railway Advisory Board member Abhilash Pandey is being taken seriously. Abhilash Pandey is considered very close to BJP State President VD Sharma. In a recent survey, he has been declared ahead of other contenders. Apart from these claimants, the name which is in the news the most at the moment is that of former minister Harendra Jeet Singh Babbu, but he has been accused of breaking party discipline, but no disciplinary action has been taken against him yet by the organization. Babbu has taken out Parivartan Yatra in the West Assembly and is meeting the heads of other social organizations including the Sikh community. After discussion in a meeting of the Sikh community, he got the green signal. The double problem before Babbu is that when Shiromani Akali Dal was with BJP in the central government, he used to get the ticket through Prakash Singh Badal, but now this alliance has broken. Apart from this, a few months ago he went to Bhopal and publicly met BJP State President VD Sharma. Serious allegations have been made against Sharma, hence he is on the radar of the district organization as well as the state organization.

Congress’s stronghold till 1990, Jayashree Banerjee breached the fort

West Assembly seat was an invincible stronghold of Congress from 1957 to 1990. From 1980 to 1990, Chandrakumar Bhanot, uncle of the current MLA Tarun Bhanot, was the MLA from here, but in 1990, setting aside all the myths of this seat, Jayshree Banerjee registered an unexpected victory in this seat. She was also victorious in 1993 and later was also elected MP. From 1998 to 2008, Harendrajit Singh Babbu set a record by winning three consecutive elections from BJP. In the 2013 elections, the wind of change again blew on this seat in which Tarun Bhanot of Congress was successful in winning, since then till now Tarun Bhanot has again transformed this seat into a strong fort of Congress. When he was the Finance Minister, Tarun Bhanot had announced Narmada River Front, after the BJP government came to power in the state, it has been named Narmada Pathway. As a result of the efforts of Rajya Sabha MPs Vivek Tankha and Tarun Bhanot, the first cabinet meeting was also organized in Jabalpur, which Congress leaders keep describing as a big achievement of Jabalpur.

Brahmin-Sikh voters in decisive role

If we look at the caste equations of the West seat, Brahmin-Sikh voters play an important role here, hence nowadays the trend of writing the word Pandit in front of one’s name has become more visible here. Here, there are more than 45 percent voters from the general category, while there are 23 percent voters from other backward classes. There are about 15 percent voters from the minority category, 13 percent from the Scheduled Caste and at least 4 percent from the Scheduled Tribe. The scale seems to be tilted towards the one who is successful in making deep inroads among the voters of Brahmin-minority and other backward classes.

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