Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Nov 7
Back in the Assembly poll arena after 10 years, BJP’s invincible warhorse Kailash Vijayvargiya is queering the pitch for rivals in Indore-1, which he is contesting, as also in the Malwa-Nimar region considered key for government formation in Madhya Pradesh.
In a career spanning decades, the 67-year-old former mayor of Indore has never lost an election. If anything, he has breached impregnable Congress fortresses turning them saffron.
Locals still remember with awe how Vijayvargiya, a strong CM contender should the BJP return to power, upset electoral calculations in Mhow, the birthplace of Dr BR Ambedkar and one of Indore district’s nine seats. “Kailash ji wrested Mhow from the Congress and represented it twice. Since then, Mhow has stayed saffron. Same is the case with Indore-2, which Vijayvargiya represented. The constituency has since remained with the BJP,” Pankaj Kshirsagar of Indore says. It is this invincibility of Vijayvargiya which the BJP is banking on to wrest Malwa-Nimar segments back from the Congress. In 2018, out of 66 seats of this bellwether region, the Congress had bagged 38 against BJP’s 57 in 2013. The belt consists of 15 districts, including Indore.
“I am campaigning across Malwa-Nimar and beyond and have covered 93 constituencies. We are forming the government with two-thirds majority, winning 150 to 160 seats,” Vijayvargiya told The Tribune today. The veteran described Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Kamal Nath as “chunaavi (poll time) Hindus”, adding the BJP would ride home on the strength of the state’s 2.5 crore plus beneficiaries of government schemes. “Even if half of them vote for the BJP, we are through. The Congress attempts to build a victory narrative post-Karnataka win holds no water,” Vijayvargiya said, downplaying his chief ministerial ambitions and any angst he might harbour over son Aakash, sitting Indore-3 MLA, being denied party ticket. “I do what my party says. The BJP has internal democracy. MLAs elect the CM,” says the BJP stalwart as he goes around meeting constituents, holding roadshows and door-to-door visits. Pitted against sitting Congress MLA Sanjay Shukla, Vijayvargiya says there is no anti-incumbency against the BJP and the strategy of fielding three Union ministers and himself had unsettled the Congress, as expected.
“Fielding top leaders is not a sign of weakness. It is a part of poll strategy and has hit its target,” the BJP leader said, noting that the Congress had lost people’s trust having failed to implement the majority of “900 announcements made in 2018”. Ask him how he feels about contesting an MLA after a decade’s gap, and Vijayvargiya quips, “Hanuman ji ki kripa bani rehni chahiye (Lord Hanuman should bless us).”
Indore residents talk of how Vijayvargiya, as mayor, built a Lord Hanuman temple atop a barren hill in the city to address “pitra dosh (inauspicious spell)” a famed seer said was troubling Indore. “Today, Pitra Parvat, the temple, is one of the greenest spaces in the city,” says Shubham Shukla, a local.
The once barren hill is now home to 4.5 lakh saplings planted by people in memory of their ancestors.
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