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A closer look at Shivraj Chouhan's constituency Budhni, BJP stronghold that keeps giving

The town of Budhni, situated on the banks of Narmada River, has been a long-standing unbreakable stronghold of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

By B. Mohita
New Update
Budhni Constituency profile

The town of Budhni is used to being in the spotlight every five years. Situated on the banks of the Narmada River, Budhni in Sehore district has been the long-standing unbreakable stronghold of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The ruling BJP has fielded him again from his home turf for the sixth time in the state assembly polls scheduled on November 17th. Budhni Assembly constituency is one of the 230 Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) constituencies of Madhya Pradesh and is a segment of the Vidisha Lok Sabha constituency. As per information made available by a government website, the constituency has a total of 2,44,580 voters out of which 1,27,847 and 1,16,744 are male and female voters respectively.

The formation of the Budni Vidhan Sabha took place in 1957. In the subsequent Vidhan Sabha elections held in 1957, the seat was won by the Congress party. Rajkumari Suraj Kala was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Indian National Congress, but thereafter, only male candidates have been winning this seat.

Demography of Budhni 

As per the Census 2011, the Budni Tehsil has a total population of 91,906. Out of which 48,652 are males while 43,254 are females. In 2011 there were a total of 19,016 families residing in Budni Tehsil. The Average Sex Ratio is 889. The majority of the tehsil’s population (81.7%) lives in rural areas. The average literacy rate in urban areas is 83.5% while that in rural areas is 71.6%. 

The total literacy rate of Budni Tehsil is 73.78%, with the percentage of male literacy rate of 71.27% and a female literacy rate standing at 54.82%.

State of development in the constituency

Even while the constituency has been the stronghold of the state’s CM for more than 30 years now, we found that reports of developmental issues in the constituency are blatantly absent from the public domain. 

As per a report by The Sunday Guardian issues like the shortage of potable water have continued to plague some villages in the constituency. On top of that, bad roads and uncontrolled menace of stray cattle have been plaguing the village for decades.

The roads in the constituency are not developed. You can't drive beyond the speed of 40 km per hour. They are pot-holed at a number of places, farmers are not getting dues for their crops, especially moong. There is no facility for serving food free of cost through Annakoot (community kitchen) to devotees, vehicles cannot go atop the hill during Navratri,” Mastal said, as per a report by India Today.

The opposition Congress leaders have been continuously criticising the Shivraj government in Madhya Pradesh over the deteriorating state of roads. 

It is worth noting that a few years ago, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, after returning from his trip to the United States, had claimed that Madhya Pradesh's roads were better than those in Washington.” 

On August 5th, Congress MP Vivek Tankha also tweeted a video of a dilapidated road in Chouhan's electoral constituency, Budhni. Tankha, tagging Shivraj Singh Chouhan on his Twitter (now X), wrote that during his Haridwar trip, he was fortunate to see better roads in Washington than in the Chief Minister's legislative constituency, Budhni.

Fearing public outrage just in the face of forthcoming assembly polls, the CM gave directions to the officials of the Public Works Department to run a week-long special campaign in the state called “Gaddha bharo abhiyan” (fill the potholes campaign) for pothole-free roads.

Budhni- a role model constituency?

Local reports from 2021 suggest that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan conducted discussions with senior officials to work out a comprehensive plan to establish Budhni as a development model in the state. Officials said that the Salkanpur Dham in the constituency, and the Narmada ghats along the religious places will be given makeovers to make them tourist-friendly. Discussions were held on various arrangements, including improving facilities for devotees who visit Salkanpur and enhancing the temple's stature to earn “global recognition”

As per a report by Dainik Bhaskar, the decision to build a super-speciality hospital in Budhni was also taken was also made in 2021. The hospital was to be built at the cost of 14 crores. However, no information as to the progress made on the hospital is available in the public domain. On the other hand, the Trident Group, which has a production plant in Budhni, also runs a hospital called Madhuban, a multi-speciality hospital in Budhni, made at the cost of 20 crore rupees.

A novice against a veteran

On October 9, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has released its fourth candidate list for the upcoming Madhya Pradesh Assembly election 2023 and fielded incumbent Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from his traditional Budhni constituency. However, this comes amid the rumours that the BJP was losing confidence in Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He has previously won from Budhni four consecutive times - starting from 1990 to 2006 (by-poll), 2008, 2013 and 2018.

On the other hand, the Congress party has decided to field Vikram Mastal, a political novice, and an actor-best known for playing the role of lord Hanuman in Anand Sagar's 2008 television show Ramayan, against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from Budhni. Mastal joined the Congress in July earlier this year

In the 2018 assembly elections, Chouhan won the Budhni seat by a margin of 58,999 votes, defeating former Union minister and senior Congress leader Arun Yadav. The Congress had last won the constituency in 1998. Chouhan had won the seat in 2013 with a margin of 84,805 votes.

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