Jabalpur, Nov 15: A total of nine candidates are in the fray from Jabalpur Cantonment assembly seat but the main fight is between sitting BJP legislator and Vidhan Sabha Speaker Ishwardas Rohani and Congress candidate Alok Mishra.
A three-time legislator, Mr Rohani is trying his luck from the seat for the fourth consecutive time, while the Congress has fielded fresh face Alok Mishra, who has been active in student politics and worked as Jabalpur University Student Unions President besides winning election to the post of councillor.
Political observers feel that other candidates, include Mr Raju Pandey (BSP), Mr Raju Yadav (BJS), Mr Ashish Yadav (RPI) and four independents, have very less influence.
Mr Rohani is banking upon developmental work carried in the Cantonment area, including launching of various schemes, in the past 15 years for seeking votes, while Mr Mishra appealing for votes on the basis of being active in the region since long and becoming partner in joy and grief of people.
The Congress candidate has charged the BJP and other Hindu outfits for recent incident of arson in a Church. However, the BJP has dubbed it as a ploy to defame the party.
Allegations and counter-allegations have been levelled by Mr Rohani and Mr Mishra over an incident of stone-pelting between BJP and Congress workers about six months back. A major incident was averted due to timely police intervention.
A total of 1,50,676 electorates will exercise their franchise at 136 polling centres -- including 124 urban polling centres and 12 rural polling centres. Mixed caste equations could be seen in this assembly constituency with about 15,000 Muslims, 25,000 Christians, 20,000 Brahmin and 15,000 Bengali voters. Political pundits feel that since Mr Mishra is a Brahmin, he could get good support from this community. The Congress was getting good support from about 10,000 electorate from central government's ordinance factories.
In a nail-biting contest, Mr Rohani had wrested Jabalpur Cantonment seat from two-time legislator and Congress candidate Chandramohan Das by a margin of 7,041 votes in 1993.
Mr Rohani retained the seat by defeating Congress candidate Prem Dubey by 7,289 votes in 1998. Mr Rohani had bagged 37,459 votes, while Mr Dubey got 30,170 votes. Following his victory, Mr Rohani became Vidhan Sabha Speaker.
He again defeated Congress candidate Tavinder Gujral by 26,098 votes in 2003. He bagged 55,109 votes, while his rival managed 29,011. Hence, victory margin for Mr Rohani has been constantly increasing. Following his victory, Mr Rohani again became Vidhan Sabha Speaker.
The Jabalpur cantonment assembly seat was bastion of the Congress since 1957 when it came into existence till 1990. Mr Das had earlier defeated BJP candidates during assembly polls in 1985 and 1990.
Mr Jagmohan Das (Congress) had been elected from the seat in 1957 and 1962, Mr Manmohan Das (Congress) in 1967 and 1972, Mr Dineshchandra Mishra in 1977 and 1980, Mr Chandramohan Das (Congress) in 1985 and 1990 and Mr Ishwardas Rohani (BJP) in 1993, 1998 and 2003. Hence, Mr Rohani had won from the seat most times besides being the only non-Congress legislator to win from the seat.
He had set a record of winning the seat by largest margin of 26,098 votes. Mr Dineshchandra Sharma holds the record of winning the seat with least margin of 14 votes when he secured 13,654 votes, while Janata Dal's Sukhdeo Yadav managed 13,641 votes.