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Gwalior faces a low-key contest

By Bipin Chandran in Bhopal
May 07, 2004 17:29 IST
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It's a low-key contest this time in the prestigious Gwalior Lok Sabha constituency, the home turf of the Scindias known for many high profile poll battles.

The Rashtriya Samanta Dal (RSD), the split-away faction of the Bahujan Samajwadi Party, is trying to make the otherwise direct contest between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party a triangular fight.

The presence of RSD candidate Sukhlal Kushwah, which may cut into the vote bank of both the Congress and the BJP, has introduced the caste element in the contest.

The RSD's presence would work in the favour of the BJP candidate Jaybhan Singh Pawaiya as it would cut into the Congress vote base, said a BJP leader. Pawaiya would win the seat by at least 100,000 margin, he added.

The would consolidate its position in the rural as well as the urban areas, said Pawaiya.

The Gwalior constituency has seen many an interesting poll battles, most high profile of them being the contest between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Madhavrao Scindia in 1984. Scindia had beaten Vajpayee then with a big margin.

In the last assembly elections, the Congress lost all the eight assembly seats in the Gwalior Lok Sabha constituency. But it is hoping for a reversal of its fortunes this time.

Congress candidate Ram Sewak Singh would spring a surprise in the otherwise BJP-dominated Gwalior, mainly due to his strong rural links and the Scindia factor, said a Congress leader.

However, the low turn out at the party meeting is giving headaches to the BJP. A meeting of Varun Gandhi had to be cancelled in the last minute due to the presence of few people at the meeting ground.

This has boosted the Congress morale. "Most of the meetings by the top BJP campaigners have seen low turnout. Some of the meeting even had to be cancelled. This shows that the ground we lost in the last assembly elections have been regained," said a Congress leader.

To avoid any upset, the BJP has lined up a series of high profile meeting in the constituency. Leaders like Pramod Mahajan and Rajnath Singh are expected to campaign for Pawaiya in the next few days.

Besides, the Rashtryia Swaymsevak Sangh is also marshalling its troops to ensure a victory for the BJP candidates. According to sources, senior RSS leaders have take charge of the electioneering.

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Bipin Chandran in Bhopal