Satna: Though his late father was famously called the `Thakur from Satna` for his long connection with this cement city, Arjun Singh`s son Ajay has a daunting task of breaking this BJP stronghold which has not sent a Congress MP to Parliament for the past two decades.
Ajay Singh, the 58-year-old leader of Opposition in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, has many odds against him to win this seat, where his father had to taste defeat in 1996 from a BSP candidate. Satna votes on Thursday.
Ajay has been specially chosen to make his debut in Parliamentary poll from the seat which his father and senior Congress leader Arjun Singh represented in 1991.
The six-time MLA from Churhat is also fighting the tag of being an "outsider" to the area as he spent his major political career in the neighbouring Sidhi district.
"I have taken this challenge (of fighting polls from Satna) very seriously. The party wanted me to take this challenge and I am a disciplined soldier. I am sure I will get the benefit of my father`s legacy in Satna and also of my regular connect with the people of this place," Ajay told a news agency amid his hectic schedule as he tours the seven Assembly seats of this large district.
Ajay says his maternal connections in the district are well known and he has been meeting people in this area quite frequently which does not make him an "outsider" to the area as alleged by the Opposition.
The fact that Arjun Singh lost from the seat in 1996 and BJP`s MP Ganesh Singh getting two consecutive terms for as also the thumping victory of BJP in the recently concluded Assembly polls in the state is weighing on the mind of this "devoted" son. He said he wants to fulfil the dreams that his father, also a former Madhya Pradesh chief minister, espoused for the region.
"The circumstances that led to my father`s defeat in 1996 now will work in my favour. The people of this area are upset with the sitting MP as he has not delivered according to their expectations. The development of this area has been arrested since the last 20 years. I want to fulfil my father`s dream for Satna," he said.
The only silver lining for Ajay, popularly called `Rahul bhaiya` by his supporters, is the fact that out of the seven Assembly seats in this constituency, Congress registered wins in four seats in the December Assembly Elections.
Of the remaining three, two have been won by BJP while one has a BSP MLA.
Ajay also rejected any `Modi wave` in this region. "The graph of Modi is coming down very fast in this area and I am sure as the polling days near, people will favour Congress," he said.
Political analysts of the region, however, pitch the latest race for this Lok Sabha seat as a triangular one with Bahujan Samaj Party fielding young candidate Dharmendra Tiwari from the area.
In 1996, BSP`s Sukhlal Kushwaha defeated Arjun Singh which virtually ended his stint in the Lower House and the Congress nominated the former HRD Minister to Rajya Sabha in 2000 after he lost another Parliamentary poll in 1998 from MP`s Hoshangabad.
Kushwaha is now with Samajwadi Party.
"While Ajay Singh has all the challenges at his hand, BJP candidate Ganesh Singh has anti-incumbency riding high. BSP can surely look to rock the boat for these two parties as they have a good base in both urban and rural areas of this constituency," said Laxman Dwivedi, a veteran political analyst of the area.
Among his plans to develop Satna, Ajay said he would want to create a `cement hub` in the area as there are already over two dozen such large enterprises here and he would want to develop the small and medium-scale enterprises in the region.