By L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: October 30 will witness trial of strength between Bhartiya Janata Party and Congress – two major political parties of Madhya Pradesh. On that day, voters of one Lok Sabha constituency and three Vidhan Sabha constituencies of the state will exercise their franchise. The date of by-polls in these constituencies was announced by the Election Commission on September 28.
For both the ruling BJP and the Congress, the by polls will be crucial in terms of the leaderships of both the contending parties. Congress leader and state party president is working hard to expand the organizational strength in the recent months and he will know how far his efforts have borne fruit. On the other hand, the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has to prove his worth by getting all the seats for BJP. Both are under watch by their central leaderships.
All the seats have been rendered vacant because of the death of the sitting members. The constituencies where bypoll will be held include Khandwa parliamentary constituency, Raigaon assembly seat in Satna, Prithvipur assembly seat in Niwari and Jobat assembly seat in Alirajpur district.
As per the directions of the EC, the nomination for contesting polls in these constituencies will begin from October 1 and polling will be held on October 30. The last date for filing nominations is October 8. Scrutiny of nominations will be held on October 11 and October 13 will be the last date for withdrawal of candidatures. The results will be declared on November 2. There are 26-49 lakh voters in the four constituencies and there will be 3,474 polling booths.
In the light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the EC has instructed that only two people will be allowed during filing of nomination papers. Also, a maximum of two vehicles could be used during the nomination process. Candidates will have to fill nomination forms and affidavits online and submit the printouts before the returning officer after getting it notarised. For door-to-door campaigning also, only 5 people will be allowed.
After the announcement of dates for by-polls both ruling BJP and opposition Congress claimed they are ready and prepared for the elections.
“BJP is ready for the by-polls and our party organisation has made all preparations. The state government will go to the people with its work and welfare policies” Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
Though the BJP’s campaign will be led by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, he is no longer considered a leader who can ensure victory. Not only did the BJP lost 2018 Vidhan Sabha elections but also lost the Damoh bypoll.
As far as Congress is concerned, though Kamal Nath continues to head the party, Digvijaya Singh has again emerged as most powerful leader of the party. Since last few days he has been leading most of the party agitations. The other day he led a massive agitation of farmers. Besides Congress CPI and CPM also participated in the agitation.
BJP state president V D Sharma also briefed the media and said “BJP has made tremendous preparations for the upcoming by-polls in the three assembly and one Lok Sabha seat at each and every booth. Right from the Chief Minister to booth-level workers all have been on the field. In our party, we do not hit the ground during the elections only, but remain active for 365 days in the year. So far as elections are concerned, BJP workers will be on the ground supported by our organisational strength.”
Claiming that results will be a repeat of the November 2020 by-polls in the 28 assembly seats, Sharma said, “In Madhya Pradesh the people and the hard-working BJP workers showed the mirror to Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh and the Congress party in the by-polls for 28 seats last year. That became possible because of the BJP government’s implementation of welfare schemes”.
BJP had won 19 out of the 28 assembly seats that went for by-polls last year. Most of these seats were won by Congress in the 2018 assembly elections but Jyotiraditya Scindia loyalist MLAs quit the party in March 2020, bringing down the 15-month old Nath government. PCC chief Nath also welcomed the announcement of by-polls. “I welcome the announcement by the EC” he tweeted. “Congress is fully prepared for these elections. We will announce the names of our candidates on time. We have full faith in the people” the former chief minister added.
Nath claimed Congress will repeat its Damoh bypoll victory in these four seats. Under any circumstances, we will win these four by-polls with a thumping mandate like in the Damoh bypoll” he said. In May this year, Congress candidate Ajay Tandon defeated BJP’s Rahul Lodhi by 17,097 votes in the Damoh assembly seat bypoll.
Taking a dig at the Chouhan led BJP government in the state, the veteran Congress leader said, after announcement of the by-poll dates, at least the false announcements of projects worth crores of rupees, the fake foundation stone-laying ceremonies and the false cocoanut breaking to mislead people will finally stop”.
There is another factor which may affect bypolls. The factor relates to the rumors that Chouhan may be replaced by some new leader. Digvijaya gave credibility to this rumour by making a forecast that that ruling BJP will soon change the chief minister in Madhya Pradesh. “Most certainly, there will be a change (of the chief minister in MP)…it will happen” he said while talking to the media in Indore.
Asked about who is likely to replace Shivaj Singh Chouhan, the former chief minister said “BJP state chief V D Sharma has ‘lost some numbers’ after allegations of tribal land grab were leveled against him”. (IPA Service)