BJP stalwart and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has won this seat on four occasions, including the 2006 byelections.
Central Madhya Pradesh’s Budhni constituency is one of the four Assembly constituencies located in Sehore district. It is a segment of Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency and is dominated by tribals and OBCs.
BJP stalwart and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has won this seat on four occasions, including the 2006 byelections. The Congress has not been able to conquer this impregnable BJP fortress for the last two decades as Chouhan has used his popularity to win the seat in 1990, 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2018. The Congress had last won the constituency in 1998.
Over the years, the shortage of potable water has been a major problem faced by some villages in the constituency. The issue of illegal mining also continues to hit headlines off and on. Bad roads and uncontrolled menace of stray cattle have been bothering the voters for decades.
The 2,74,219 voters in the constituency include 1,41,883 men and 1,32,329 women.
In 2018, Chouhan got 1,23,492 votes which were 60.25% of the total votes polled. His Congress challenger Arun Yadav got 64,493 votes – just about half of what Chouhan polled. This was about 31.47% of the total votes cast. The total voting percentage in the constituency in 2018 was 60%.
In 2013, Shivraj Singh Chouhan got 128,730 votes, which were 69.99% of the total votes polled. In 2013, Dr. Mahendra Singh Chouhan of the Congress got 43,925, which was 23.88% of the total votes polled.
In terms of the social split, the constituency’s decisive voters include tribals, Kirar, Brahmin, Rajput, Pawar, Meena and Yadav communities. Muslims also are likely to play a role in the outcome of the 17 November election.
Chauhan, who hails from village Jait, belongs to the Kirar community. In real terms, Yadav population in the constituency is almost double that of Kirar population. In 2008, the Chief Minister trounced his rival by a margin of 41,525 votes. In the 2006 byelection, his victory margin was 36, 525. In 1990, Chouhan had won the election with a margin of 21,138 votes.
In keeping with the BJP’s Hindutva agenda, the CM has been spending wholeheartedly on the rejuvenation of places of worship in his constituency and other areas in the state. The highlight of his current term as CM has been the redevelopment work carried out at the cost of Rs 3,000 crore on building, rebuilding or sprucing up temples, including the Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, along with museums close to it. He also unveiled a 108-feet tall statue of Hindu saint Adi Shankaracharya at Omkareshwar in Khandwa district.
This constituency is the pocket borough of Congress party’s chief ministerial candidate Kamal Nath and has been the showpiece of the development model nurtured by him. Home to 2,81, 683 voters, the Assembly constituency whole-heartedly backed nine-time Congress MP Nath when he decided to fight his maiden Assembly election from here in a byelection in May 2019. Nath won by a margin of 25,800 votes. Chhindwara is among the few Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh where women voters outnumber men. The seat has 1,40,674 male voters as against 1,41, 002 women voters.
The assembly segment is part of the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat which Nath has won a record nine times. Voters in the constituency decry the poor pace of development of medical facilities. A medical college – Chhindwara Institute of Medical Sciences – that was proposed by Nath during his 15-month rule from 2018 is now in limbo, allegedly due to the BJP government’s cold shoulder.
Poor state of roads is also one of the key concerns of voters. The youth want more jobs. A lack of teachers in Chhindwara university is also a big complaint among the teaching community. Security for women and removal of liquor shops from near women colleges have also been highlighted by some women voters.
The demand for the restoration of the old NPS scheme has also found resonance among government employees in the seat.
The development model of Chhindwara has always comes up for discussion whether it is the parliamentary elections or assembly elections in the state. However, supporters of the Congress blame CM Chouhan of sabotaging key projects like medical college launched by Nath during his brief 15-month stint starting 2018.
In 2018, Congress candidate Deepak Saxena (who won almost 50% of the votes cast) won the seat by defeating Choudhary Chandrabhan Singh of the BJP by a margin of 14,547 votes. Saxena later vacated the seat to facilitate a byelection for sending Nath to the Assembly. In 2013, BJP’s Choudhary Chandrabhan Singh had won the seat with a margin of 24,778 votes beating Congress contestant Deepak Saxena. In 2008, it was Saxena who had beaten Singh in the electoral battle.