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In tribal-dominated Ratlam, Cong strongman Bhuria takes on MP BJP minister's wife

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Indore, May 11 (PTI) The fight between Congress leader Kantilal Bhuria and Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Nagar Singh Chauhan's wife Anita Chauhan is as much for the Ratlam Lok Sabha seat as it is for supremacy in the tribal-dominated region between their families.

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The two families are leaving nothing to chance.

Bhuria's son Vikrant quit as Madhya Pradesh Youth Congress chief on April 8. In his resignation letter to Indian Youth Congress president Srinivas BV, he said he needed to devote maximum time in Ratlam to help his father.

On the other hand, Nagar Singh Chauhan has taken most aspects of his wife's campaign into his own hands.

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The Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency, which has 20.94 lakh eligible voters, will go to polls on May 13.

Bhil and Bhilala tribals play a decisive role in deciding the election results.

Bhuria (73), who was a minister in the Congress-led UPA government, has won from Ratlam five times. He was, however, defeated in 2014 and 2019.

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Targeting the BJP, Bhuria told PTI, "Forest Minister Nagar Singh Chauhan's wife Anita has no contribution to the development of the region. The BJP governments at the Centre and in the state have neglected Ratlam." "Roads, ponds and dams in this tribal-dominated area were built during Congress rule," he said.

"Due to the lack of employment, tribals of the Ratlam region are still forced to go to Gujarat and Rajasthan for work," he said, adding that government recruitment has been stagnant for a long time.

The Ratlam constituency has 1,014 women for every 1,000 men and this may have been the reason why the BJP chose to field Anita Chauhan, 39, who holds a master's degree in law and is the Alirajpur district panchayat president, in place of sitting MP Guman Singh Damor, according to political analysts.

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Anita Chauhan dismisses any challenge from Bhuria.

"Bhuria is not a challenge. We are talking to tribal labourers who have migrated from the Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency to other states to find out what kind of employment can be arranged in their home area. We will create new employment opportunities for them here after the elections," she said.

With campaigning intensifying, the Bhuria and Chauhan families have been engaged in a war of words.

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"Even though Anita Chauhan is the candidate, it is Forest Minister Nagar Singh Chauhan who is actually contesting. The BJP decries dynastic politics but then gives a minister's wife a Lok Sabha ticket," said Bhuria's son Vikrant.

Hitting back, Nagar Singh Chauhan said, "It is not right to think Anita has been given a BJP ticket just because she is my wife. She has been an active party worker for the last 20 years. It is the Congress that practices dynastic politics." The Ratlam Lok Sabha seat comprises eight assembly seats spread across Ratlam, Jhabua and Alirajpur districts. It is home to a large number of tribals, many of them living in 'falias' or scattered settlements in the valleys.

Most of these places are remote and lack basic amenities like electricity, water and roads, forcing a large number of the tribals to migrate to neighbouring Gujarat and other states for livelihood.

According to analysts, this is the reason why employment and basic amenities continue to be the main poll issues. PTI HWP MAS BNM DIV DIV

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