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Congress fields Vikram Mastal, TV’s Hanuman, against CM Chouhan in MP
In a bid to counter #BJP's #Hindutva ideology and deflect attacks against him as attacks on Lord Hanuman, Congress has fielded the TV actor from the Budhni seat, which is Chouhan's stronghold.
The Congress has fielded young television actor Vikram Mastal, who is popular for his portrayal of Hanuman in Anand Sagar’s ‘Ramayan’, against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the upcoming Madhya Pradesh elections.
Vikram hails from Salkanpur village in Budhni assembly constituency in Sehore district. He belongs to the Brahmin family (Sharma), but he adopted the surname ‘Mastal’ due to television serials he worked with.
Notably, state Congress president Kamal Nath, who has presented himself as a devotee of Lord Hanuman, apparently fielded Mastal to counter the BJP’s Hindutva ideology. Political observers also say that the Congress has played an ideological stroke with fielding Mastal against Chouhan.
“Vikram Mastal may not be a big political face against Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but his reel life character has a large canvas which will help the party to create an impression across the state. Any political attack against Mastal will be presented as an attack on his reel-life character -- Lord Hanuman and that perception may help to corner the BJP’s Hindutva ideology,” a Congress worker from Budhni said.
The political observers also said that Mastal has the tough job of taking on Chief Minister Chouhan from the Budhni seat in Sehore district, which is Chouhan stronghold.
He joined the Congress in July and was one among many who condemned the language used by the character of Hanuman in the Bollywood movie ‘Adipurush’.
“I am thankful to the Congress for showing trust in me. I would go to the people of Budhni with local issues. I would ask people what they have gained after supporting the Chief Minister Chouhan for nearly two decades. Will ask people why Sehore’s youths did not get jobs despite the fact that the Chief Minister belongs to their district,” Mastal told IANS.
Mastal, who appeared alongside Gurmeet Choudhary and Debina Bonnerjee in Ramayan, has featured in the movie ‘Top Gear’ (2022), web series Battle of ‘Saragarhi’ (2017) and ‘Ashram’ (2020).
Chief Minister Chouhan has won five assembly elections (1990, 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2018). Importantly, Budhni assembly is one of the strongest seats of the ruling BJP for more than 20 years. The Congress won the Budhni seat last time in 1980 when K. N. Pradhan contested on Congress ticket.
In the last election, the Congress had fielded former MP Arun Yadav, the son of former minister and strong OBC leader of his time Subhash Yadav. However, Chouhan won the election with a margin of around 59,000 votes.
The only positive note for the Congress was that the winning percentage of Chouhan declined by around 9.7 per cent in comparison to his victory in 2013. In 2018, Chouhhan got 1,23,492 votes, while Arun Yadav got 64,493 votes.
In the 2013 assembly election, Chouhan got 1,28,730 votes, while Congress’ Mahendra Singh Chouha got 43,925 votes.