November 10, 2013

SHIV-RAJ IN MP? - PART III


MADHYA PRADESH 2013: THE ISSUES THAT MATTER




LEADERSHIP DEBATE

Riding on his charisma, the BJP is trying to make the upcoming polls a straight contest between their Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and the Congress. In fact, this makes a lot of sense for the ruling party, considering the fact that the Opposition is split in two distinct sections. A soft spoken leader who is identified as the man who ushered in some sort of development in a relatively 'backward' state in his eight year long term, Chauhan enjoys immense popularity amongst the masses. His welfare schemes targeting the women and the poor have made him extremely popular and the saffron brigade is hoping that he can win a third straight term for them. Opinion polls carried out by several organizations have shown that the CM's ratings are quite high considering the fact that he has been in power for eight years. However, the reality on the ground is that as the polling date comes closer, the fight is getting too close to call. Large number of rebels in the fray could just do the damage that the Congress has not been able to do on its own. As such, apart from his constituency of Budhni, Chauhan has filed his papers from Vidisha - a move to cut down the influence of former Finance Minister Raghavji who is the sitting MLA from here. It was reported that Raghavji was hoping that the party would nominate his daughter from here.

Keen to project a fresh face to take on the heavy weight Chauhan, the Congress named Union Minister Jyothiraditya Scindia as the head of campaign in Madhya Pradesh. Representing the Guna constituency, the clean image of the young leader and the good will earned by his his late father, the much beloved Madhavrao Scindia who died in a tragic plane crash in 2001 has worked in his favor. However, in the run up to the polls, media reports coming from the Congress camp indicated that two distinct factions had emerged with each trying to out do the other in the race to get tickets for their supporters. Jyothiraditya and his colleague Kamal Nath had ganged up against former CM Digvijay Singh and his loyalist - Ajay Singh and Kantilal Bhuria. Luckily for the Opposition, it seems that the Scindia scion and former royal of Raghogarh have mended their fences in the last after the intervention of the Gandhis. Off late, the INC is making inroads in Chambal and Baghelkhand regions where it is expected to do well. The general perception is that the Congress would have decimated the ruling party had the Gwalior scion been named as its CM candidate bout an year back. However is it too little, too late? Well, only time will tell. 


MODI vs RAHUL - THE LITMUS PAPER TEST 

While it is true that state elections are fought primarily on local issues, the impact that the upcoming assembly polls will have on the General Elections in 2014 cannot be entirely ruled out. Poll pundist and political observers have dubbed these polls as the semi-finals before the clash of the titans in next May. There are two factors that make Madhya Pradesh extremely important in this context. Firstly, it is one of the few states that sees a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress - the two major parties in the Indian political scene. The Left Front and its allies in the much hyped Third Front have no support base here what so ever. Secondly, the state sends 29 MPs to the Lower House of the Parliament and a spectacular win here will give the victor a head start over the other in the big battle seven months down the line. The last General Elections was a close fight with the BJP winning 16 seats whereas the INC took home 12 as the BSP registered victory in one constituency.

Narendra Modi - the BJP's PM nominee addressed a rally in Bhopal on 25th September titled the 'Karyakarta Mahakumbh' which some claim to be is the biggest political congregation of its kind in the world where he heaped praises on the performance of the Chauhan regime. The Jhansi leg of his 'Vijay Shankhand' tour of the neighboring Uttar Pradesh also drew large crowds from adjoining districts of MP due to its geographical proximity. The Gujarat CM is expected to campaign here from 18th November to 22nd November. On similar lines, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi kick started his Madhya Pradesh campaign with the 'Satta Parivartan' rally in Sagar where he tore into the state government for failing on parameters like poverty, hunger and rural health while ignoring the region of Bagelkhand. This was later followed by another big gathering at Indore on the same day where he promised to make the city the economic hub of the state if voted to power. With both the PM nominees battling it out in the heart of India, the results here will be a good opportunity for both the BJP and the Congress to asses their preparedness before May 2014.


For more on the Madhya Pradesh Elections 2013, click here (Link)