Five-time MP and Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel, who is contesting his first assembly polls, feels the candidate’s strength and his connect with the people are what is tested in the assembly polls.
Patel, who is among the three Union ministers and four other MPs fielded by BJP in the Madhya Pradesh assembly polls, asserts that this should not be seen as a demotion but rather another responsibility being assigned.
“When I was told that I might have to contest the assembly polls, I welcomed the suggestion. In a way, it is a home-coming for me to contest from that very assembly segment from where my political journey began,” Patel told ET during his campaigning here.
Patel said he “feels the real test of the political leaders’ ground connect and his sway on the ground are tested in the assembly polls as the election is focused on local factors”, whereas in the Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and national factors also come into play.
- Madhya Pradesh
Patel, an OBC leader and seen as a strong contender for the post of chief minister, says that Shivraj Chouhan is BJP’s most familiar face in MP among its state unit leaders.
On replacing his brother as the BJP candidate from Narsinghpur, Patel said the party had earlier decided to field him from one of the assembly segments in Chhindwara, the backyard of the Congress chief ministerial candidate Kamal Nath. Patel said that it was decided that either he or his brother Jalam Singh Patel would get the ticket. Finally, he was fielded from Narsinghpur.
Patel, the party’s biggest face from the Mahakaushal region, feels that fielding one senior leader from each region has helped in consolidating BJP’s position.
A staunch devotee of Narmada river, Patel has done more than 3,000 km parikrama of the holy river and makes it a point to pay obeisance to the river during his campaigning. Many of his supporters believe that his candidature has influenced the Lodhi voters, a large community in the Mahakaushal region.