By-polls results in M.P a warning for BJP

By Kushal Jeena. Dated: 3/9/2018 12:31:00 AM

The outcome of by-elections to two assembly constituencies held last weekend in Madhya Pradesh has shown that all is not well in the ruling BJP and anti-incumbency wave could lead the party to an electoral drubbing in the upcoming state elections later this year.
The victory that Congress party has registered also shown which way the general mood is going to swing in the assembly elections. Besides, the victory of Congress has established supremacy of Jyotirditya Scindia within the state Congress party and he would certainly be leading the party in the elections.
The elections to the two assembly segments of Mungaoli and Kolaras that fall vacant after death of two Congress legislatures came as a challenge to Scindhia as the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had deployed almost is entire cabinet there making the elections as a prestige issue. Both the seats fall under Scindhia Guna Parliamentary constituency, so it also came as a tough challenge for Scindhia. Finally, the result that came on Wednesday endorsed that Guna Lok Sabha seat continues to remain a pocket-borough of erstwhile royalty.
The chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan made all attempts to wrest these two seats from Congress to give a jolt to the efforts of Jyotiraditya Scindhia become an unchallenged leader of the Congress and ultimate heir to the throne when the state goes to the polls later this year. In his bid to attract voters and tribal community that hold key to the elections in these two segments. Chauhan had announced a series of welfare schemes including Rs 1,000 monthly pension to majority saharia tribes to fight malnutrition.
The chief minister also deployed ministers of his cabinet in both seats whereas Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia did make frequent visits to the assembly constituencies to retain them as the by-polls had became a prestigious issue for him because any set back might seal his political career as a chief ministerial candidate. Buoyed by its performance in recently held assembly elections in Gujarat and victory in Chitrakoot by poll, the Congress was confident.
"The chief minister has been making promises, which he cannot fulfill. During Shivpuri by-poll in 2017 he made 146 announcements, but only two of them were implemented.
The stakes of the chief minister Chauhan were higher in the upcoming assembly by-polls than the Congress stalwart as a victory in the Congress strong hold could help change the general perception that his is a non-working government. However, the defeat in the assembly by-polls has boosted the morale of his detractors who has been launching a campaign for his ouster to beat anti-incumbency ahead of state elections.
The Congress win would help Jyotirditya to consolidate his hold within the state party and subsequently usher unity among senior leaders of state Congress, which is faction-ridden.
The tough task ahead for him is to bring all factions of the state party under one leadership. Till the outcome of recently by-polls it appeared a difficult task as Ajay Singh, son of former Congress strongman Arjun Singh had also thrown his hat into the ring. However, things have changed in the aftermath of by-polls as Jyotirditrya Scindia has come up as only suitable candidate to lead the party. The results have also strengthened his clout among the central leadership.
It would also go a long way in preparing party workers for a tough fight ahead. After witnessing three drubbings consecutively in assembly elections in MP, Congress workers have virtually lost hope of party staging a comeback.
"If people make the BJP win the residents of Mungaoli and Kolaras will get two MLAs-one our candidate and second me as other MLA. I will work like an MLA for both seats for the next six month," Chauhan said on the sidelines of one of his rally in Mungaloi.
The BJP and Congress have been winning both Mungaoli and Kolaras assembly seats turn by turn since 1985 in a cyclic pattern. The BJP has won Kalarus four times; the Congress has emerged victorious thrice. It is the first time that contest in both seats has taken an interesting turn. Both the parties are working hard to win the by-elections.
The verdict of the assembly by-polls could also be considered as a pointer to the general mood in the two-adjoining BJP-ruled state of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan as an adverse result would further up the anti-incumbency in these two states. The BJP has been in power in Chhattisgarh for last one-and-half decade whereas it will complete its five year term later this year.
The by-poll results have also shown that the Congress should not underestimate the influence of Bahujan Samaj Party in the state as the party has polled substantial votes in these two states. There are indications that the Congress leadership in an attempt to avoid any split in the opposition votes could also approach BSP leader Mayawati for a pre-poll alliance in Madhya Pradesh. If such an alliance happens, it would further seal the fate of Shivraj Singh Chauhan government.
-- [IFS]



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