Nepanagar Narrative: The Party that Wins This Seat Gets Power in MP, and 2020 Proved no Exception

When it comes to politics, there are many beliefs and superstitions, and Madhya Pradesh is no exception to this. One of the long-standing beliefs in the state is linked to the Nepanagar seat in Burhanpur district and the theory is that the party which wins the seat gets to form the government in MP.

Bypolls this year were no exception as former MLA Sumitra Devi Kasdekar, who had resigned from the Congress party and joined the BJP in July, won the seat in the election and the Shivraj Chouhan-led BJP government also sealed its majority with 19 wins in the state.

Kasdekar had won on a Congress ticket in 2018 and the party that time had got the chance to form the government despite missing the majority narrowly. In the bypolls, Kasdekar contesting on a BJP ticket defeated Ramkishan Patel by over 72,000 votes.

With Kasdekar’s win, the belief that the party which wins the seat also wins the elections in the state also remains intact. This idea has been in existence at Nepanagar, part of Khandwa parliamentary seat, for around 43 years.

It all started in 1977, when Janta Party’s Brijmohana Mishra won the assembly poll and the outfit also formed the government in the state. Tanwant Singh Keer of the Congress won the election here in 1980 and Keer also was appointed as health minister in the Congress government.

Keer was re-elected in 1985 and the Congress again formed the government in the state. Brijmohan Mishra returned as an MLA in 1990 from the BJP and the party also formed the government in the state.

Keer was again elected as an MLA in 1993 on a Congress ticket and the state then saw the formation of Congress government under Digvijaya Singh. Singh was re-elected as chief minister in 1998 but this time Congress had fielded Raghunath Chaudhary who also won.

Archana Chitnis was fielded by the BJP from Nepanagar in 2003 and Uma Bharti powered to a victory and became chief minister. The seat was reserved for the ST category in 2008 and the BJP had fielded Rajendra Dadu who won and the saffron party also formed the government under Shivraj Singh Chouahn.

This combination was repeated in 2013. Dadu died in a road mishap in 2016 and during the bypoll, her daughter Manju was elected as an MLA in the same year.

In 2018, Sumitra Devi Kasdekar won the poll in Nepanagar on Congress ticket and incidentally her party, also the grand old party, found a way back to power in the state after 15 long years.

However, in March this year, 22 Congress MLAs left the party to join the BJP and in July this year, Kasdekar alleging apathy to her constituency in Congress government had resigned from assembly and joined BJP soon after.

This time in the bypolls, it was a bit uncertain whether the belief would manage to stand the test of time, as both the BJP and Congress party were claiming a win despite internal rift.

Ex-MLA of BJP from Nepanagar Manju Dadu wasn’t too impressed with the arrival of Kasdekar and assigned a ticket in no time. Sumitra Kasdekar had to face opposition from the BJP party workers on several occasions initially.

On one occasion, while she was visiting the constituency for a public meeting, former BJP MLA Manju Dadu’s supporters began shouting slogans against her. However, in the later stages the party did manage to rein in rebellion and stand behind Kasdekar.

On the corruption front, Kasdekar had faced the ire of the BJP and Congress party one by one. When she was with the Congress, the BJP openly protested against her, alleging huge corruption in her tenure.

As she shifted base to the BJP, the Congress party started accusing her of corruption. Kasdekar was under fire since July as the Special Task Force had arrested persons with fake currency and those arrested included MLA’s representative Kiran Sondkar. Ex-MLA Manju Dadu had openly demanded Kasdekar’s resignation over the incident in the past.

When Kasdekar was given a ticket by BJP, Dadu was said to be in touch with the Congress but later she had flatly denied the speculation and remained with the BJP. Kasdekar has defeated Congress’ Ramkishan Patel by 26,340 votes in the bypoll.

Vijayvargiya’s cryptic remarks at Nepanagar

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya had also hit the headlines while addressing a rally in Nepanagar for the bypolls. Referring to eight wins in Lok Sabha polls for ex-Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Vijayvargiya had said that he had worked for Sumitra Tai (Mahajan) eight times and would now work for this Sumitra Tai (Kasdekar) to make her win. “It seems I am born to make Sumitra victorious,” he said, with his remarks being linked to his dissatisfaction with the BJP.

Lone female winner in MP bypolls

Sumitra Devi Kasdekar’s win not only helped the belief tagged to Nepanagar prevail but also made her the only woman candidate on 28 seats who secured a win. Among 22 women out of 355 candidates in the bypolls, everyone but Kasdekar lost. These included BJP’s minister Imarti Devi from Dabra and Congress party’s Ramsiya Bharti from Malhera and Parul Sahu from Surkhi.

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