By L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: There is sharp division in the Congress over who should be given credit for the victory in the two MP assemblies by elections. Barring senior leader Kamal Nath and to some extent Satyavrat Chaturvedi, no other Congress leader of significance has cared to shower praise on Jyotiraditya Scindia for the success. Kamal Nath went to the extent of saying that he would not mind if Jyotiraditya Scindia is projected as the chief ministerial candidate ahead of the Vidhan Sabha elections, scheduled by the year end.
Both leaders of the organisation and legislative wing of the Congress have thanked the electorate of the two constituencies. They did not make any reference to the hard work done by Scindia. In a statement issued after the announcement of the result, Arun Yadav, state Congress president, thanked the party workers for the historical win, which gives a clear indication of the “parivartan” (change), destined to take place following the assembly elections. He ridiculed the BJP claim that it will win 200 seats in the 2018 assembly. Yadav did not make any reference to the leadership of Scindia during the election campaign.
Similarly in a separate statement Ajay Singh, leader of Opposition in Vidhan Sabha, said that the results showed people have lost faith in the BJP government. The results have also shown that the people have accepted Rahul Gandhi as the leader and are ready to hand over power to the Congress both in the state and the Centre. Both Yadav and Ajay Singh are aspirants for the chief ministerial position.
Even Rahul Gandhi in his twitter said “90 percent of Congress workers fought the elections with all their might but the 10 percent who did not help the party in the elections will face tough action. We want to give a clear message that no matter who you are or how big you are, if you are not with the Congress there is no future for you”. Rahul Gandhi did not mention the massive contribution of Scindia in ensuring Congress victory in Mungavali and Kolaras.
Congress leaders must have chosen to be circumspect in recognising the role of Scindia, but the media has gone whole hog praising him. Even pro-BJP media has recognised the pivotal role of Scindia. BJP veteran and former chief minister Babulal Gaur commented that though the margin of victory was reduced and BJP garnered more votes than previous polls, the strategy to corner Jyotiraditya in his bastion literally failed. Quoting from Mahabharata, Gaur said Scindia was dubbed as Abhimanyu but he emerged as Arjun, breaking the Chakravyuh formed by the opposition party.
The win has boosted the morale of the Congress. Deepak Babaria, AICC general Secretary in charge of Madhya Pradesh, has announced that the party will launch a “BJP quit India” campaign on March 13 in Bhopal. The by-election wins have revived Congress’ hope of capturing power in 2018. The results are a setback to BJP and Chief Minister Shiv Raj Singh Chouhan personally. Chouhan and 80 percent of his cabinet virtually camped out there for weeks, with the chief minister doing up to 12 roadshows everyday while Jyotiraditya was left fighting a lone battle. Kamal Nath joined him on the very last day of campaign. The by-elections were treated as a ‘Shivraj versus Maharaj’ affair. The Congress alleged that government schemes worth more than Rs. 1,500 crores were announced during the campaign but it failed to lure the voters.
Apparently as part of the poll strategy BJP inducted three ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet, all from other backward class (OBC). One cabinet and two ministers of state were assigned to woo voters in their areas of influence, but the Congress routed them in their home turf, said a senior RSS functionary. He predicted that caste politics will play a big role in the forthcoming assembly polls.
“Politics has changed. Madhya Pradesh will witness a new trend in the coming elections. Days are over for the politics of ethics and principles. Parties will have to choose candidates on the basis of their caste. Those in majority will get the ticket. Those having muscle and money power will rule the state,” said the BJP veteran.
The BJP tried unsuccessfully tried to give the battle a Scindia-versus-Scinda colour by assigning minister Yashodhara Scindia, who is the aunt of Jyotraditya Scindia, for the campaign. But the tactic failed as Yashodhara refrained from any personal attack on his nephew.
In sum total, the results show the erosion Chouhan’s capacity as a vote catcher, with the party rank and file also starting to doubt his capability to win elections. (IPA Service)
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