Considered one of the BJP’s safest seats in the country, Vidisha was the only one among MP’s 29 without any speculation over who would be the ruling party’s candidate. Ever since Sushma Swaraj won comprehensively in 2009, registering the third highest margin, the name was a given, but it’s the personal attention showered by Shivraj Singh Chouhan, over the last few years that has made it a high-profile constituency.
Among those who represented this constituency have been a future PM (Atal Bihari Vajpayee), the current leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha (Sushma) and the current chief minister.
Spread over four districts, the constituency has developed disproportionately to the political importance it gets. Four of six BJP MLAs who won from eight assembly segments are ministers in the state government. Vidisha is struggling in terms of road conditions and other infrastructure.
Barely 30 km from Bhopal is Ratanpura in Raisen district, where villagers complain they don’t get drinking water and suffer untold miseries during monsoon. “We depend upon charity because a few people who own tube wells allow us access to drinking water,’’ says a resident.
Several villages, including the one Sushma adopted after becoming leader of Opposition, cry for attention. Though she has not spent a night in her constituency, she tells her voters that she visits every segment regularly.
Chouhan, who vacated the Vidisha Assembly seat after winning it along with Budhni, had contested only to please Sushma. During his whirlwind campaign for the general election, Chouhan addressed most rallies in Vidisha.
The Congress had suffered an embarrassment after its candidate Rajkumar Patel’s nomination was rejected in 2009. It has fielded AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh’s younger brother Laxman Singh to make the fight look tougher.
The only time Sushma named her Congress rival was when Laxman Singh got the ticket and she tweeted to welcome him. Other BJP leaders run him down for “deserting the sinking ship” after the Congress lost in 2003. Laxman defected to the BJP and won in 2004 but lost five years later. He returned to the Congress a couple of years ago.
Aam Aadmi Party candidate Bhagwandas Rajput admits to lack of resources and funds to take on the major political parties. His USP is that he is a local candidate unlike Sushma and Laxman Singh.
The shop had stored over 20 drums of kerosene that fuelled the blaze and it quickly spread through the entire building.