The selection of candidates for the upcoming bypolls to 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh suggests that the Congress is looking to strike the right caste combination.
Among the 15 candidates announced by the party so far are four former BSP leaders, including former BSP state president Phul Singh Baraiya.
Out of the 15 candidates, nine will contest elections in the Gwalior-Chambal region — four are former BSP leaders and three were earlier with the BJP. The region is considered a stronghold of former Congress leader and now BJP Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Baraiya will contest from Bhander and Pragilal Jatav, Satyaprakash Shekarwar and Mevaram Jatav, earlier with the BSP, will now contest on a Congress ticket from Karera, Ambah and Gohad, respectively. All the four seats are reserved for SC candidates.
The 28 bypolls were necessitated by the resignations of 22 Congress MLAs that brought down the Kamal Nath government, subsequent resignation by three more Congress legislators and death of three sitting MLAs.
The BJP has 107 MLAs and the Congress has 88 MLAs.
The Congress, party sources say, announced the names of 15 candidates after three rounds of surveys to gauge their popularity on the ground.
While the BJP is yet to announce its candidates, it is likely to field the 25 MLAs who switched from the Congress.
The three former BJP leaders, who have been fielded by the Congress in the Gwalior-Chambal region, include former minister Kanhaiyalal Agarwal.
Agarwal is likely to contest against state minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Mahendra Singh Sisodiya and former BJP leader Suresh Raje may take on his relative and Women and Child Development Minister Imarti Devi in Dabra.
Premchand Guddu, former Ujjain MP who quit Congress to join BJP in 2018 and returned to Congress in March 2020, may be up against Tulsiram Silawat, state minister for water resources.
The Congress has fielded Ravindra Singh Tomar from Dimini — the Tomar community accounts for 27 per cent of the electorate in the constituency. He may be up against Agriculture Minister Giriraj Dhandhotiya.
Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said, “The candidates have been selected based on their popularity in the survey done by three different agencies. Caste was also a factor.”