Vidisha (MP), Oct 26: The Uma Bharti-led Bhartiya Jan Shakti (BJS) is making its electoral debut in the prestigious Lok Sabha byelections in the BJP-stronghold Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, by fielding its state unit President Raghunandan Sharma.
BJS, which was floated by Ms Bharti in Ujjain on April 30, has fielded Mr Sharma to take on BJP candidate and state PHE Minister Rampal Singh and Ms Rajshri Singh of the Congress.
Mr Munnawar Salim of the Samajwadi Party and six Independents are also in the fray.
Vidisha, which came into existence in 1967, returned Congress candidates only in 1980 and 1984. Former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was elected from Vidisha in 1991, but quit as he opted to retain a seat from Uttar Pradesh. Newspaper baron Ramnath Goenka was elected as Jan Sangh candidate from Vidisha in 1971.
The seat fell vacant due to the resignation of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on his election to the Assembly from Budhni. Mr Chouhan held the seat for five terms in a row.
Ms Bharti, former Chief Minister, fielded Ms Rekha Yadav as her party candidate from Malehra, which she vacated on ''moral grounds'' after her expulsion from the BJP for questioning the procedure adopted for Mr Chouhan's election as BJP legislature party leader in November last year.
The rural parliamentary constituency is spread over mainly in Vidisha, Sehore and Raisen districts, besides four villages of Babai tehsil in Hoshangabad district.
The ruling BJP, which drew flak from the Election Commission during the Assembly byelections in Budhni when Mr Chouhan was its nominee, is moving with caution making the campaign a low-key affair. It also issued directives to its leaders and legislators not to visit the constituency without prior approval.
The byelections is considered prestigious by the BJP as well as the BJS as both are protagonists of Hindutwa ideology, while the Congress is trying to bank on the split in the votes with Ms Bharti facing an acid test in her home turf.
Mr Chouhan himself took command of the BJP campaign in his former constituency as it is the second byelections after Budhni since he took over the state's reigns.
As many as 13,15,311 electorate are scheduled to exercise their franchise in 1480 booths on October 30 and the counting will be take place on November 2.