Madhya Pradesh: BJP converting state elections to a PM vs RG poll

Through his third term at the helm, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan hasn’t quite been an able administrator. There is growing resentment over his clumsy governance and haughty style

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Chandrakant Naidu

Rahul Gandhi’s spectacular launch of the Assembly election campaign in Madhya Pradesh on Monday should go a long way to boost the morale of Congress supporters. He covered nearly 15 kilometres during a fourhour road show and sent out positive vibes for party workers in other heartland states like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where elections are due in two months.

The question however that nagged both party members and analysts was whether the Congress had played to the strength of the BJP by overplaying the religious imagery. A banner sponsored by some supporters described Rahul Gandhi as Shiv Bhakt and showed him offering abhishek on a Shivalinga. After his recent visit to Mansarovar Rahul Gandhi’s religious credentials became the focus on primetime Television.

Old-timers recall that the Gandhi family never made much fuss over its religious inclination. Old media hands in the state recall Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi’s past visits to Mahakaleshwar temple at Ujjain and at other religious places in the state. Indira Gandhi had even met Shankaracharya on a couple of occasions.

Strategists may have found it imperative after Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the mosque of the Bohra sect at Indore. Modi, who had famously refused to wear a skull cap a couple of years ago, not only walked into the mosque barefoot but went through other rituals like “vuzoo” and “Sijda” before eulogising the role of Bohras in national development.

State Congress president Kamal Nath, say detractors, has failed to keep his appointments with the influential Bohra community leader Syedna Mufaddal Saiduddin. Modi’s entire focus, on the other hand, was on embracing the Syedna to send a reassuring message to the minorities.

Through his third term at the helm, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan hasn’t quite covered himself in glory as administrator. There is growing resentment over his clumsy governance and haughty style. His party strategists have therefore turned the state elections into a Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi battle to deal with anti-incumbency.

Against this backdrop, Rahul Gandhi did well to overlook the communal build-up in electronic media and focus on issues that concern the people at large. Rising prices, poor state of the farmers, corruption, growing unemployment and trade and industry meltdown formed the crux of his speech at Bhopal.

He said there was 440-volt undercurrent of change flowing in the state and the Chouhan government would realise it during the elections. He said his party would bring in the GST as was conceived by the UPA government. He focussed on Vyapam and e-tender scams and drew a round of applause by taking a dig at Chouhan. “If Tendulkar was a run-machine, Chouhan was a “Ghoshna machine” (prolific in making announcements),” he said to the wild cheers of the crowd.

To keep the party flock together, he announced that there would be no room for paratroopers. The party would thus not entertain outsiders who land only for nomination at the eleventh hour. Strategically, both Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath, the front-runners for Chief Minister’s post have offered not to contest the Assembly elections. This should leave them free to campaign all over the state.

Though Kamal Nath is keen to sew up alliance with other parties like BSP and SP, seat sharing remains a nagging issue. With BSP unrepresented in Lok Sabha and reduced to a shadow of itself in UP, Mayawati is bargaining hard for an alliance in both MP and Rajasthan.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines