Madhya Pradesh: Shivraj singed by price rise, unemployment

With the ongoing allegations of corruption, fraud charges and growing resentment among people against the Shivraj Singh government. Congress may have a upper hand in the BJP-led State

PTI Photo
PTI Photo
user

Sanjeev Acharya

While the Vyapam scam does not seem to be a part of the pre-poll narrative in MP, corruption scandals and simmering resentment among cross sections of the people appear to have put BJP on the defensive. Among other charges, the party is finding it difficult to counter charges that the nephew of former Chief Minister Sundarlal Patwa defrauded a bank of crores of Rupees.

ND Sharma, a political commentator, said, “I will not be surprised if the Congress springs a surprise this time and wins the election. It has selected its candidates carefully and based on surveys done. The party appears better prepared than last time and infighting is much less than that in the BJP.” He also points out the growing resentment in BJP’s rank and file following the party conceding demands of scores of leaders by fielding their close relatives.

The BJP undoubtedly is resource rich and it shows on the ground, he concedes. “But in the face of an anti-incumbency wave, anything is possible,” he adds.

Ugly spats over the distribution of ticket by the BJP have been followed by a large number of BJP rebels entering the fray. Sartaj Singh, a senior minister who was denied ticket, severed his 40-year-old connection with the BJP and joined the Congress which has fielded him from Hoshangabad. Another minister, Kusum Mahdele, denied nomination, issued a public statement alleging irregularities and discrimination in ticket distribution.

In Bundelkhand, BJP rebel Ramkrishna Kusumakar is giving a tough time to finance minister Jayant Malaia. The rebellion appears to have affected BJP’s prospects across the region. Veteran RSS ‘leader’ Sushil Dave reluctantly admits that if BJP failed to placate ruffled feathers, it may pay a high cost.

This seems to have become the talk of the town as senior advocate Shailendra Dwivedi confidently asserts, “The BJP is going to lose at least 42 seats out of the 66 in the Malwa-Neemar region”. Political lore holds that whichever party secures this region is the one which eventually forms the government in Bhopal. By that token, the headwinds spell trouble for the BJP in the area.

The spat between Kailash Vijayvargiya and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, both of whom apparently wanted their respective sons to contest the election from the region, has scarred the party. Divisions within the BJP across Indore, Ujjain, Dhar, Devas and Khandwa, acknowledge observers, are sharper this time than in the Congress

Former Congress MP Rameshwar Neekra exudes confidence over the prospect of the party this time. “The fact is that every section of society is not just disappointed but are positively angry at the BJP’s failures,” he says and points to the restive farm sector. Farmers growing wheat, soya bean and gram over the last few years were forced to sell their produce at throwaway rates, he recalls. Farmers being unable to sell old cows which have stopped giving milk and the crops destroyed by stray cows have added to their angst.

The spat between Kailash Vijayvargiya and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, both of whom apparently wanted their respective sons to contest the election from the region, has scarred the party. Divisions within the BJP across Indore, Ujjain, Dhar, Devas and Khandwa, acknowledge observers, are sharper this time than in the Congress

The Editor of Free Press Journal, SR Singh, observes, “This election undoubtedly appears different from the last two elections. There is palpable anger in all the regions of the state, whether in Malwa or Mahakoshal or in central MP.” He points to simmering anger among the youth. Vyapam scam, the government’s patronage of the scamsters and growing unemployment have turned the youth against the government.

An amused senior journalist Vishwambhar Shukla observes that ironically even the Sadhus and the seers are abusing the BJP this time. Supporting the contention, Acharya Pramod Krishnam says, “BJP plays the religion card and religious sentiment to defraud people. The entire ‘Sant community’ is issuing an appeal to Hindus, asking them to defeat the BJP.”

Professor Rahul Kamble confirms that the Dalits and the dispossessed have been alienated by the BJP and are biding their time to settle scores. Indore Town Congress chief Vinay Bakliwal points to the dissatisfaction among small traders following Demonetisation and GST. CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s wife is said to be facing protests over price rise, unemployment, etc. in the CM’s constituency of Budhni. Chouhan is facing stiff challenge from former Congress PCC president Arun Yadav.

For all the latest India News, Follow India Section.