High-profile campaign in tribal-dominated Betul

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Betul(MP), Apr 10 (UNI) Helicopters frequently taking off into the sky, convoy of air-conditioned vehicles and enthusiasm of political workers make it hard to believe that election campaign is underway for the Lok Sabha by-election in tribal-dominated Betul constituency in Madhya Pradesh and not a high-profile constituency.

Stakes are high for the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress in the Betul bypoll in view of assembly elections scheduled this year end. Both the parties are treating the bypoll as a ''semi-final'' despite the fact that the victorious candidate would get less than a year to work in the constituency.

It is 'Kamal' (read BJP) versus 'Kamal' (read Union Minister Kamal Nath) in Betul. While Mr Nath has made the bypoll a matter of prestige pumping huge resources for the bypoll, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was leaving no stone unturned to ensure victory for BJP.

The by-election is being viewed as a contest between Mr Nath and Mr Chouhan much similar to the recent Rajya Sabha election when the fight was seen as between Mr Chouhan and newly-appointed state Congress President Suresh Pachouri.

With the onset of summer, electorate in this tribal-dominated region are not enthusiastic but seemed verily surprised at what was forcing senior political leaders and party workers to sweat it out in the most backward constituency.

The bypoll was necessitated due to the death of BJP MP Vijay Kumar Khandelwal alias 'Munni Bhaiya', who had been representing the constituency since last four elections.

His son Hemanth Khandelwal has been fielded by the BJP, while the Congress has announced Masaud legislator Sukhdeo Panse as its candidate. Samajwadi Party MLA Dr Sunilam is also contesting for the seat though the main fight is between BJP and Congress.

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