States & UTs

    BJP goes all out to snatch Kamal Nath citadel Chhindwara, aims to induct 50,000 Congress workers

    The Hawk
    February29/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Amidst speculations, Kamal Nath reaffirms loyalty to Congress, challenging BJP's aggressive campaign and its claim over dissatisfied Congress members.

    Congress leader Kamal Nath

    Chhindwara: The BJP, which has consistently failed to win the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat, the bastion of Congress veteran Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh, is making all out efforts this time to bag it, and set the target of inducting 50,000 workers from the rival party ahead of the polls as part of its ambitious plan.

    Kamal Nath held the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat as many as nine times and it continues to remain with the family as his son Nakul Nath is currently an MP from there.

    Speculation was recently rife that the senior Nath may join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with his son. However, the 77-old-leader, who was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for 15 months till March 2020, dismissed the buzz.

    Chhindwara has always remained the citadel of Congress. From 1952, the party lost this Lok Sabha seat just once in the 1997 by-election. During the 2019 general elections, the BJP bagged 28 out of 29 in MP, but failed to win Chhindwara.

    According to BJP leaders, the party is eyeing to achieve its ambitious plan of inducting around 50,000 Congress leaders and workers into its fold in Chhindwara ahead of the Lok Sabha polls that are likely to be held in April-May.

    The saffron party said 50 Congress cadres came into its fold on Wednesday in Chhindwara.

    Speaking in Gwalior and Khajuraho last Sunday, Home Minister and BJP's chief strategist Amit Shah told the booth workers to work towards ensuring the party's win in all 29 Lok Sabha seats in MP.

    "Since February 1, a total of 5,000 Congress leaders and workers have joined BJP as they were unhappy with their party's decision to boycott the Ayodhya Ram temple consecration ceremony last month," BJP's Chhindwara district unit president Bunty Sahu told PTI on Thursday.

    "We have set the target of inducting 50,000 Congress workers before the elections and finishing off our rival party...Those who are unhappy with the Congress are joining our party," he added.

    "This time, we are going to win with a huge margin," he said as his party was reaching the voters at every nook and corner of Chhindwara to win them over before the polls.

    According to a senior leader, the state BJP leadership has asked its Chhindwara unit to woo and induct 50,000 Congress members, who are dissatisfied with their party.

    The BJP claimed that 1,500 Congress leaders joined them on February 21. Former MP Congress general secretary and liquor baron Ujjwal Singh Thakur aka Ajju also joined the ruling party.

    Welcoming them at that time, Chief Minister Mohan Yadav cryptically said here that many people are feeling anxious and they will eventually join the saffron party in the coming days.

    Congress's district president Vishwanath Okte, however, told PTI that his rival party was making false claims about his party leaders and workers joining them.

    According to him, only around 24 Congress leaders had joined the BJP since February 1.

    "Opportunists are leaving Congress and joining BJP. No true Congress soldier has switched over to the BJP here. Only selfish people and those with ill-gotten money are joining BJP," he alleged.

    Sensing the BJP game plan, Nath on Wednesday kicked off his public contact programme to drum up support for his son Nakul who in all likelihood is going to be Congress' nominee in Lok Sabha from here.

    As part of his 5-day tour, the former MP CM Nath is scheduled to visit all the 11 revenue blocks of Chhindwara to cobble up support for his son.

    On Wednesday, Nath told the party workers that he would not "impose" himself on them and would "leave" if they wanted him to.

    Addressing a meeting of the party workers at Harrai on his home turf Chhindwara, he said he had been receiving their love and trust for many years.

    "If you want to bid farewell to Kamal Nath, it's your choice. I am ready to leave. I don't want to impose myself. This is a matter of your choice," the former MP Chief Minister told the gathering.

    The senior Nath had already announced that Nakul will contest again from this seat.

    "In the 2019 elections, we lost the Chhindwara seat by just 34,953 votes. In 2014, we lost it by 1,16,537. The figure shows that we have reduced the margin of defeat considerably," a BJP leader said.

    "Though we lost all the seven assembly seats in Chhindwara last year, our vote gain per cent has jumped substantially. We are going stronger by the day, and are set to pull off victory in Chhindwara," a BJP functionary said.