By L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: Result of Jhabua by-election has not only given stability to the Kamal Nath government but has also boosted the morale of the Congress. Almost all the newspapers have commented that it was the biggest Congress victory in the history of the state. The winning leader is Kanti Lal Bhuria, who happens to be veteran tribal leader. For the last forty years he was in active politics. During this period he served in the Lok Sabha, Union Minister and also as member of state ministry headed by Digvijaya Singh. Unfortunately he lost the Lok Sabha election of 2019 and his son Dr. Vikrant Bhuria lost the assembly elections held in 2018.
After Lok Sabha elections this assembly seat was vacated by sitting BJP MLA who won the Lok Sabha election. Kanti Lal Bhuria demanded that he should be allowed to contest from Jhabua in the assembly by-election. It was with great reluctance that the Congress agreed to sponsor him. He was confident of victory and the result proved that he was right.
Diwali festivities started early for the Congress in Madhya Pradesh with Kantilal Bhuria’s spectacular win in the Jhabua assembly bypoll. As soon as Kantilal Bhuria took an unassailable lead, Congress started the Diwali celebrations by beating drums, fireworks, distribution laddoos and shouting slogans of “Jai Jai Kamal Nath”.
Amidst jubilation with victory rallies throughout the state, chief minister Kamal Nath threw an open challenge to the BJP inviting opposition leaders to ‘topple’ his government.
“Every week they (BJP leaders) threaten Congress government will be toppled. Come topple the government” Nath said addressing party workers at the state PCC office on Thursday. “You (BJP) work on retaining your governments in Haryana and Maharashtra. Don’t worry about us” he said. The victory margin of 27,985 votes has boosted the confidence of Kamal Nath led Congress government.
BJP leaders during campaign repeatedly forecasted that Jhabua victory would open the door for the formation of BJP ministry. Leader of opposition in the Vidhan Sabha Gopal Bhargava boasted that not only BJP would form the Ministry but it would be headed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan. By making this forecast, Bhargava became a target of ridicule and finally central leadership asked him to shut up.
The result of the by poll has caused rift in the party. Some party leaders asked state BJP president Rakesh Singh to resign and own up responsibility for the defeat. Senior legislator from Sidhi, Kedarnth Shukla, demanded sacking of state president Rakesh Singh. The state BJP has slapped a show cause notice to him for blaming state president for party’s defeat in Jhabua by poll.
“Kedarnath Shukla’s allegations and demand is violation of party discipline. After consultation with national leadership, the party has served him show cause notice to explain on this statement. After his reply party will decide next step” said BJP state general secretary VD Sharma, in a hurriedly called press conference on Thursday evening.
“Jhabua is not the victory of Congress nor a defeat for the BJP. The adverse result is due to the failure and poor performance of party state president Rakesh Singh. The central leadership should remove him immediately from the post” demanded Shukla.
Shukla’s statement has triggered a political debate in the saffron party amid organisational elections in the state unit. Shukla further attacked “Congress won Jhabua by-election due to failures of the BJP state president. This happened during previous assembly election too”.
However BJP general secretary Kailas Vijayavargiya said that Jhabua assembly seat is traditional seat of Congress and emotional appeal made by its leaders that it would be Kantilal Bhuria’s last poll, has helped the party gain ‘sympathy votes’.
Observers think that resentment among party workers post ticket announcement was one of the factors responsible for BJP’s humiliating defeat. Even as saffron leaders left no stone unturned in cornering the ruling Congress on issues like farm loan waiver, subsidy in power tariff and delay in rain-hit relief disbursement.
Party candidate Bhanu Bhuria, a young leader and district president of Youth wing, was facing opposition from leaders like Kalyan Singh Damor, who has been seeking party ticket during the bypoll. The saffron party not only failed to retain its rural stronghold, but also turned ineffective to garner considerable votes in tits urban pockets where during previous elections it had made a clean sweep.
“Some leaders sabotaged the campaign and voted against the party. There were some leaders who supported Congress candidate in Kalyanpura, including party vice president of the area, where BJP had to suffer a huge loss. I would inform the party leadership about those who were involved in ant-party activities during the bypoll” Bhanu Bhuria told media persons.
The BJP had a division level meeting in Indore on Thursday evening itself to analyse its defeat in the bypoll. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayavargiya and state organisation general secretary Suhas Bhagat attended the meeting among others. (IPA Service)