Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Cong sets caste equation right in MP, know the background of the candidates declared on reserved seats

The candidates declared to contest on reserved seats are believed to benefit the party’s nominees in nearby Lok Sabha seats as well.
Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Cong sets caste equation right in MP, know the background of the candidates declared on reserved seats

Bhopal: As the campaign for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections is gradually gathering momentum, with the polls drawing closer, the Congress party is expected to contest strongly in Dalit and tribal dominated in most of the Hindi heartland states, except Uttar Pradesh.

Of the 10 seats in Madhya Pradesh for which it announced candidates in the second list on March 13, seven are reserved constituencies. Given the candidates it has fielded from the constituencies reserved for the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities, it is believed that the focus of the grand old party in the polls is on Dalits and tribals. 

The candidates declared against reserved seats are set to benefit the party’s nominees contesting on unreserved neighbouring seats.

The party has fielded Phool Singh Baraiya from Bhind — a seat reserved for the SC. Singh was first elected as MLA of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 1998. He left BSP in 2003. In 2019, he joined the Congress — which nominated him as its candidate in the previous elections. However, he lost. 

He contested the 2020 Assembly by-election from Bhander in Datia district on the Congress ticket but lost once again. Following a series of defeats, he successfully contested the 2023 Assembly polls from Bhander.

Baraiya is a respected leader of the Dalit community in the state. He has dominance in Gwalior, Chambal and Bundelkhand divisions. His candidature is believed to benefit the party on other seats as well.

The party has nominated 43-year-old Pankaj Ahirwar from SC-reserved Tikamgarh Lok Sabha constituency. He has served the party in various capacities — the district secretary of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the district general secretary of the Youth Congress and the district president of the SC wing of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC).

Presently, Pankaj is the state vice president of the MPCC’s SC department and in-charge of the Sagar division. The Ahirwar community has a significant concentration in Bundelkhand region, which houses the Tikamgarh Lok Sabha constituency. 

Earlier, the Congress had fielded Kiran Ahirwar from this seat, but he lost to BJP’s Virendra Kumar.

For Dewas (SC) seat, the party has selected 55-year-old Rajendra Malviya — who is the MPCC’s SC department’s working president and former Union minister. In addition, he is also the general secretary of the MPCC. 

Malviya belongs to the Balai community. He has been nominated on his father's political background and strong hold in the area.

The party has declared 47-year-old Omkar Markam as its candidate from the Mandla (ST) seat. At present, he is an MLA from Dindori — which he has been winning for the past four Assembly elections. 

He has served the party as the state’s Tribal Congress president. He was also the minister in the previous Kamal Nath government. In 2014, Mandla contested the general elections, but tasted defeat at the hands of BJP’s Faggan Singh Kulaste. 

Markam is a prominent tribal face of the state. 

Forty-five-year-old Radheshyam Muvel has been fielded from Dhar (ST) constituency. He is a postgraduate. At present, he is the party’s district president as well as the vice president of the MP Tribal Congress. 

Previously, Muvel was the district president and state secretary of the Youth Congress for the district. 

He is considered to be close to the Leader of Opposition, Umang, who is said to have proposed his name for consideration.

Congress has brought in the fray 42-year-old Porlal Kharte from Khargone (ST) seat. He was an inspector in the Sales Tax department. 

Last month, the party undertook a tribal awareness rally from Mhow to Dadra Nagar Haveli, reiterating the long-standing demand for constitutional rights. 

The party has given him the ticket because of his activism in the tribal area and a stronghold in the society. He had also been the state secretary of the party in the past.

From Betul (ST) seat, the party has given a ticket to 36-year-old young tribal leader Ramu Tekam. He is currently the state president of the Tribal Congress. In 2019 also, the Congress had nominated him as its candidate from the same seat, but he lost the election.

The Congress has tried to solve the caste equation in Chambal, Bundelkhand, Vindhya and Nimar regions of the state.

-Story Translated by Tarique Anwar

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