The Congress candidate is a proxy for former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, who is known for spewing venom against right-wing organisations, and his BJP rival is a former RSS functionary.
And yet there are no visible signs of tension in this stronghold of the AICC general secretary whose son Jaivardhan Singh is an MLA from one of the eight assembly segments that make the Rajgarh parliamentary constituency.
Sitting Congress MP Narayan Singh Amlabe, a former sarpanch who owes his ticket and victory to Digvijaya Singh, is humble and so is his challenger Rodmal Nagar, who was a district-level RSS functionary before being absorbed into the BJP.
“It’s a contest between the RSS and the anti-RSS forces,’’ claims coordinator SC/ST Morcha and cooperative cell Bhagwat Saran Mathur. Mathur and Suresh Soni, a very senior RSS leader, hail from this region.
When it comes to campaigning no one mentions either the RSS or Singh’s utterances against the organisation that often makes him the target of the right-wing elements on social media.
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Though in his second contest, Amlabe seeks votes in Singh’s name and still refer to him as Raja Sab.
Singh and his younger brother Laxman Singh have won the constituency several times on the Congress symbol.
In 2004, however, Laxman had defected to the BJP and won on the lotus symbol. Digvijaya campaigned against his brother and taught him a lesson for his betrayal five years later in 2009. Chastened Laxman returned to the Congress fold and is now a party candidate in Vidisha against Sushma Swaraj.
“Why proxy, he’s directly in the fray,’’ says general secretary of Rajgarh Congress unit Rashid Jamil Khan about Digvijaya Singh, adding the constituency is synonymous with him and his influence.
Rodmal’s case, too, is not very different from Amlabe’s. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan describes him as an ordinary party worker who got an opportunity to contest only on merit, and not recommendation. A few years ago he lost the election that would have made him a member of the district panchayat.
In the recent elections, the BJP won six out of the eight assembly segments that fall within Rajgarh. Jaivardhan Singh’s victory from Raghogarh was a foregone conclusion.
Interestingly, ordinary BJP workers feel more than Chouhan it’s the Modi wave that will do the trick this time. “Everyone wants change and want to bring in Modi,’’ says BJP worker Vinod Nagar, a resident of Biora.
“The more he (Digvijaya) targets the RSS, the better it’s for us,’’ replies Rodmal immediately addressing a small gathering in Kankaria village.
“We made a CM (Chouhan) but that’s enough we need to make a PM who talks tough, sees the neighbouring countries in the eye and is genuinely concerned about our soldiers,’’ Rodmal tells the crowd.
The BJP candidate also mentions cultural nationalism, self reliance and self respects and wants to know from the crowd which man can ensure it. “Modi,’’ says a villager, helping Rodmal to bring his brief address to an end.
The Congress projects Amlabe as an honest man. They say he’s so humble that “if someone bows little he bows more’’.
Introducing an element of surprise to the contest is AAP candidate Prashant Tripathi, a dentist. He talks against feudalism of the
Congress and corruption of the BJP. He claims a major chunk of Amlabe’s MP fund lapsed. “Honesty and humility is not enough.’’