(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)
Madhya Pradesh is one of the 5 states going for December election. Till 2000, Madhya Pradesh was the largest state in India, with nearly double the size of united Andhra Pradesh. It is so big that even after Chhattisgarh was formed, it is the second largest state in India. Before independence, there were 54 Princely States in Madhya Pradesh. There were very important Rajas like Gwalior of the Scindias and Bhopal Nawabs. Many former rajas are MPs, MLAs and Ministers. Political facts of Madhya Pradesh :1. Madhya Pradesh has 29 MPs and 230 MLAs. In 2018, assembly election, Congress narrowly defeated BJP and formed state government. But within short time, Congress government fell and there is now a BJP government.2. Shivraj Singh is the Chief Minister, and he has been continuously chief minister for the last 20 years, with a gap of 18 months. 3. Madhya Pradesh is surrounded by Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh. Thus, there is a lot of influence from those states. 4. Though BJP lost the 2018 Assembly elections, it won 28 out of 29 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 parliament elections.
Congress in Madhya Pradesh:
a. Former chief minister Kamal Nath has been an MP from 1980. Kamal Nath is personally popular and generous. He is now the Chief Minister face of Congress.
b. Digvijay Singh is another former Chief minister of 10 years. Digvijay But he is no threat to Kamal Nath.
c. The Congress Party is united and is campaigning on the grounds though it won the 2018 lost, the BJP cheated it out fo power. The Gandhis i have no local influence in Madhya Pradesh. d. The Congress is also stating that BJP has been ruling Madhya Pradesh continuously for 20 years with only a gap of 18 months. Congress says that it is time for a change.
BJP strategies in Madhya Pradesh:
a. Madhya Pradesh is a strong Hind-heartland state. Naturally, Madhya Pradesh has a strong BJP base. Moreover, the history of having 54 Rajas earlier also creates a positive atmosphere for BJP. At one time, during Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi’s time, Congress had good relations with Rajas. But Sonia Gandhi and Rahul have not kept it up.
b. It is true BJP has been ruling for 20 years and there is strong anti-incumbency. But in the Congress too, there are no new faces. Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh have been there in the last 45 years.
c. The BJP sensed that anti-incumbency will be a factor and hence brought 4 central Ministers and 3 BJP MPs to contest as MLA s. Naturally, this has created some excitement in Madhya Pradesh.
d. Jyotiraditya Scindia, son of former Maharajas of Gwalior is now with BJP. It is expected that Scindia will help the BJP to get a majority.
E. There are many Opposition parties like Samajwadi party and Kejriwal contesting the elections, thereby dividing the anti- BJP votes. BJP says that it has a bc Chief minister. Can Shivraj Singh Chauhan manage a victory? In 2018, BJP lost Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh state assembly elections. BJP sidelined former chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan and Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh. But BJP did not dare sideline defeated Shivraj Singh Chauhan, as he still enjoyed a great reputation. When Congress government fell, BJP again made Shivraj Chauhan the Chief Minister again. Though Narendra Modi is popular, the BJP depends on Shivraj Chauhan to win the election. If BJP wins Madhya Pradesh, probably Chauhan will become Chief minister for the fifth time. Congress and Kamal Nath: Kamal Nath has been an MP since 1980. He is popular and bold. In Madhya Pradesh, there is limited campaigning by the Gandhi family. Everyone knows that Madhya Pradesh is a Hindi state and there is not much demand for Gandhis in such states. It is only in distant south India that Gandhis are used in elections. Kamal Nath has fielded strong leaders as MLAs and also due to his amiable and compromising nature, there are no rebellions. Old veterans fighting battle in Madhya Pradesh. Chief Minister Shivraj Chauhan, former chief Ministers Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh are over 75 years. There is no new face in BJP or Congress. The old leaders have ensured that youth is suffocated. Jyotiraaditya Scindia is 53 years old. Rahul Gandhi is 55 years. But both these leaders are called “youth. “In India, age does not matter. When great Tamil actor and politician MGR was 30 years, Jayalalitha was just born. By the time, MGR became 50 years, he started acting with Jayalalitha as a “college student “in half-pants In Madhya Pradesh, it is a battle of veterans of both BJP and Congress. A safe bet in Madhya Pradesh is that either Kamal Nath of Congress or Shivraj Singh Chauhan of BJP will be the chief Minister. The fight is still even and difficult to predict. But no one else other than Shivraj Singh Chauhan or Kamal Nath will become Chief Minister.
(Author is a political and economic analyst)