here is a big anticipation for Congress in Madhya Pradesh. Here, the Congress party basically revolves around three personalities — Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath, and Digvijay Singh. All of them have done their part very well, each trying to overpower the other two. On the other hand, former chief minister and All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Digvijay Singh has undertaken the Narmada Parikrama as a completely “personal and spiritual undertaking” and is also considered to be a frontrunner. Further, Kamal Nath, nine-time Lok Sabha MP and former Union Cabinet Minister, has also been speculated to be in the running for the party’s nomination for the top post. Although there seemed to be a competition for leading the party in the Assembly elections, reports suggest that a compromise has been reached and that Jyotiraditya Scindia is all set to assume the lead role and shall also be announced for the post of the Chief Minister. Scindia is seen as a young leader ready to take on a responsibility, a great sign for our democracy. Since Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as the party President, he has assumed a larger role in attacking the Union Government and its policies. The set of elections in late 2018 shall be his first real test in consolidating the anger against the government policies into fruitful results for the party. However, the extent of his involvement is open to speculation due to the conflict between success in elections and Gandhi’s projection as Modi’s direct rival.
As seen in Gujarat, the Congress has the ability to consolidate all the issues of consequence and thereby force the narrative in the campaign, rather than sporadically questioning the government of the time, without a well thought out plan. With several issues cropping up over a significant period of time, and of a varied nature, a good strategy and targeting of voters should do the trick for Congress. In Madhya Pradesh, anti-incumbency of Shivraj Singh Chouhan is at its highest. It’s almost comparable to Digvijay Singh’s times back in 2003.
The Tribal vote will be consolidated under the Congress-BSP alliance (It will have a deciding effect in 35–40 seats). Congress won the by-polls in Kolaras and Mungaoli by a few thousand votes only because BSP didn’t compete.
In 2013 polls, BJP won 44.88 per cent vote share against Congress’ 42.67 per cent. BJP got 165 seats while Congress only got 58 seats. A 2 per cent vote share difference is enough to create a 100+ seat difference. BSP vote over the last three elections has been 7 per cent. Congress+BSP vote share is 50 per cent or around 170 seats. This is purely arithmetic and the assumption is that vote share remains same from last elections and there is a seat-sharing agreement between Congress and BSP. But politics is not purely arithmetic. According to me, Congress vote share will increase drastically as will BSP’s and that would be the perfect storm for BJP.
Moreover, the Modi effect has faded. Modi’s message would be much less appealing to an agrarian and rural population like that of MP.
Various unhappy sections in MP, like farmers, Dalit, youth, the state government officers (promotion in the reservation is an issue and will dent the vote share of BJP. SAPAKS will take away around 1.5-2 per cent vote share from BJP). As with any administration that has been there for a long time, rust has set in the CM’s rule. A few bureaucrats are taking calls on behalf of the CM and are catering to their personal agendas. Massive scams have been swept under the rug. The people would disown when thick layers of corruption would be unwrapped. Congress had planned a determined and focused campaign. Factions inside the state Congress were united like they were under Madhav Rao Scindia back in the early 90s. Troublemakers and bad names like Digvijay Singh were sidelined in their election campaign.
The Mungaoli and Kolaras by-elections showed a poor performance by the ruling BJP government. The Indian National Congress managed to retain its seat in the two constituencies. Despite the discourse of development, it portrays and the fact that they have been ruling the state for the past 15 years now, the BJP couldn’t snatch the seats from the Congress. The battle for Madhya Pradesh seems tough with Congress trying to play hard to come into power by re-arranging its unit while the BJP is also fighting hard to hold on to their state with the decreasing influence of BJP wave in the states. The SP will also contest the elections in MP this time and one might see an alliance between the SP/BSP and the Congress. Already the regional parties trying to unite against BJP for 2019, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are beginning of new equations. If we look at BJP in a larger perspective, Shivraj Singh Chouhan is neck deep in corruption; he is a sand mafia to the main conspirator in Vyapam scam. The BJP has been ruling Madhya Pradesh since the kick out of Digvijay Singh from the state. Shivraj Singh Chouhan had a good image among the public until recent past. He is known as MAMA of the state’s children. But there has been a sharp decline in his image in the past few years. Many scams had come up in the latter half of his tenure. There are many allegations against the CM, his wife, and other senior BJP leaders of the state. Apart from scams, farmers’ issues are not less in the state. The state has witnessed many farmers committing suicides due to the burden of agricultural loans, unavailability of perennial water, etc. But the victory or defeat in an election depends not only on the works of the current government, but it also depends on what alternative is available to the masses. Although people are currently not happy with Shivraj Singh Chouhan and surprisingly they have an option to choose Congress for their young CM face. There are not one or two, but seven to eight prominent groups led by Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Suresh Pachauri, Ajai Singh, Arun Yadav, Kantilal Bhuria etc. Most of them have pockets of influence in a specific region, but none of them statewide, except for Digvijay. Everyone wants decentralisation of power. Real democracy lies in the hand of people. No party can meet the expectations of people because they have lots of ethnic diversity and hence, have lots of views. But, there is a need of change and this time people of Madhya Pradesh thrive for Scindia with a hope that he may do something new for the youngsters, else Mama’s rule may prove disastrous.
(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])