In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP as well as the Congress have launched their campaigns for the upcoming by-polls on 24 seats in Madhya Pradesh.
While the Congress is counting on big faces, taking former leaders into its fold and planning to pit veteran leaders like Rahul Singh in the poll fray, the BJP is holding meetings with party leaders and workers to end its internal feud.
Both the parties have recently deployed district heads in constituencies where elections are due to keep a close eye on the workers.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samajwadi Party’s (BSP) announcement to contest the by-poll on all 24 seats has sent both the Congress and the BJP into a tizzy. The BSP has a strong hold over the Gwalior-Chambal region owing to its dalit population. The party had managed to swing 2% to 18% votes in almost every seat of the region in recent elections.
Out of 24, 22 seats got vacant after 22 rebel Congress rebel MLAs crossed over to the BJP when Jyotiradiya Scindia joined the BJP. Two seats went vacant after the death of two sitting legislatures. The by-poll is likely to happen before September this year.
The State Election Commission has already begun the preparation and notified the District Collectors about the by-polls. However, dates are yet to be announced.
Former MP from Ujjain and BJP leader Premchand Guddu and veteran BJP leader from Gwalior Balendu Shukla returned to the grand old party after 11 years last week. Moreover, more than 500 workers including district heads joined it in Bhopal.
According to media reports, the Congress has roped in political strategist Prashant Kishore for the by-poll.
“India got independence in 1947, but Gwalior-Chambal region got Independence in March 2020 after Jyotiradiya Scindia left,” said in-charge of Congress Gwalior KK Mishra.
“In the previous elections, Congress entrusted everything to Scindia, but this time the party will give a chance to committed party workers who will outshine in the polls,” he added.
Moreover, the internal feud will damage the BJP and cracks will emerge within the party once it begins to distribute the tickets, he added.
Another party spokesperson Abbas Hafeez Khan said that the Congress is going to the polls with a clear slate.
“Gaddars vs wafadars (traitors versus loyalists), Scindia’s wafadar vs Congress wafadar (Scindia’s loyalists vs Congress loyalists) and 15 months of misrule versus 15 months of Congress rule,” Abbas said, adding that the party is betting on the big faces.
Hundreds of Congressmen and loyalists to the former Congress leader who switched over to the BJP joined the saffron party in Bhopal last month. CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and State BJP Chief VD Sharma welcomed them in the party.
Besides, senior party leaders including Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state Home Minister Narottam Mishra met with the party workers.
Commenting over the BJP’s poll strategy, BJP spokesperson Rajnesh Aggrawal said, “Congress is a leader-based party while the BJP is cadre-based. As Congress’ 22 leaders switched over to the BJP, their supporters too have switched to the saffron party. Now, Congress has no one left to work,” he said.
Senior journalist of Gwalior and political expert Devshree Mali said that the biggest challenge for the BJP is to douse the anger of local BJP leaders and workers who are angry after 22 rebel Congress MLAs joined the party. They are seeing the development as a threat to their political career as the party is likely to give tickets to the Scindia loyalists.