Shivpuri-- A battleground for royals with glaring contrasts

It`s a royal battle in Shivpuri where members of Scindia family are fighting it out to secure political space for their respective parties - BJP and Congress.

Shivpuri: It`s a royal battle in Shivpuri where members of Scindia family are fighting it out to secure political space for their respective parties - BJP and Congress.

But just five kilometres away from the town, there are tribal habitations unaware of the political wars being fought on this land.

It`s a constituency nursed by the royal Scindia family for decades. BJP has brought back its Gwalior MP Yashodhara Raje to contest from Shivpuri seat for the third time.

The Congress candidate is former MLA Birendra Raghuvnshi, who had won the seat in 2007 assembly by-poll, when Raje resigned from the seat and became a Lok Sabha MP from Gwalior.

Sitting BJP MLA Makhanlal Rathore, a close aide of Raje trounced the Congress candidate?in 2008 in a keenly-contested triangular contest.

Jyotiraditya Scindia, son of late Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia, is MP from Guna, under which the Shivpuri assembly seat falls. Yashodhara Raje is Madhavrao`s sister.

In 2008, both Yashodhara and her son Akshay had campaigned for the BJP candidate, while Jyotiraditya had campaigned in favour of the Congress candidate.

Analysts feel the move by the BJP to field Yashodhara from Shivpuri this time appears as part of its larger game plan to corner the Scindia scion Jyotirdaitya on his home turf after he was made his party`s campaign committee chief and the virtual CM candidate of Congress, which is out of power in the state since 2003.

Under the same strategy, another BJP MP Maya Singh, related to Scindias, has been fielded from Gwalior East assembly segment.

These intricacies, however, have little relevance for a large section of people.

At Kathmai village settlement near the town, where the Saharia community of tribals lives, 30-year-old Uttam does not know who is the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

Nor does he know what political post, Sonia Gandhi holds. `Manmohan Singh` is his answer when asked who is Chief Minister of your state.

He turns apologetic saying "I do not know that much" when told that Shivraj Singh Chouhan is the Chief Minister.

He, however, believes that `Behen ji`, as Yashodhara Raje is known popularly here, has support among the people.

The 100 odd families of the tribal community have been resettled here after they were evicted from Madhav National Sanctuary.

A large number of such villages were relocated then.

"This tribal community has a population of at least 20 thousand in the Shivpuri district but no one has risen in politics from among them. They have been left behind in this cut throat competition," says Pramod Bhargav, an author and political commentator.

Villagers are either involved in farming `lobia` or gram crops or engaged in stone cutting. They complain that the paucity of water has brought down the number of crops they grow from two to one. Growing lobia requires less water.
Prem Naryan Kushwaha claims that the traders are unhappy with both Congress and BJP.

"You will see that a large of voters will press the NOTA button to declare their aversion for all candidates. What do we do. There are more shops than buyers here.

"It is hard to make both ends meet with this income. I voted in last five elections but nothing changed. Lot of people are migrating from here. I will also pack up and try to find a livelihood somewhere else," he says.

Election Commission has from this year introduced NOTA, giving voters a right to vote for none of the candidates.