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With No Visible Wave for Either Congress or BJP, It's Fight For Every Seat as MP Votes Today

The ruling BJP is going to the polls riding on the work done by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. On the other hand, it’s a now or never contest for the Congress in Madhya Pradesh.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:November 27, 2018, 11:57 PM IST
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With No Visible Wave for Either Congress or BJP, It's Fight For Every Seat as MP Votes Today
File photo of Kamal Nath and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
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Bhopal: Once a Congress bastion, Madhya Pradesh has turned into the BJP citadel and is all set to vote in another election where, critics say, there has been no visible wave — Modi or otherwise.

The ruling BJP is going to the polls riding on the work done by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Though Chouhan is fighting a strong anti-incumbency, he is banking on a host of welfare schemes to get him across the finish line. Schemes like Sambal Yojana, which offers social security to the poor, and PM Housing Scheme, the BJP hopes, will boost its chances. CM Shivraj has struck a chord with the masses with his populist schemes, say, Ladli Laxmi Yojana, Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojana, Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana, among others.

Chouhan has not only helped the BJP win the 2008 and 2013 Assembly polls, but also kept the party flag flying in most of the civic and rural body polls in 13 years of his rule. Shivraj is popularly known as “mama”.

Chouhan boasts of taking MP out of the so-called BIMARU states. During the campaign, Shivraj highlighted the ‘phenomenal’ growth the state achieved in agriculture under his government.

Though scams like Vyapam have brought a bad name to Shivraj Singh government.

On the other hand, it’s a now or never contest for the Congress in Madhya Pradesh.

The Congress is battling the perception of a house divided that comes together whenever polls are around. Seniors like Digvijay Singh, Rameshwar Neekhra and Mahesh Joshi took the mentoring roles this time, while leaders like Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia led the campaign charge.

The Congress did make noise by raising the Vyapam, the e-tendering and the electricity scams thus making the BJP’s claim of corruption-free governance sound hollow. The congress president also targeted the Shivraj government for the farmer suicides in the state.

Seizing the advantage, Rahul Gandhi has announced that his party will waive off farm loans within 10 days of coming to power in the state. The loan waiver announcement by the Congress seems to have hit the BJP hard. The BJP leaders, including PM Narendra Modi, have called the Congress promise a lie.

The announcement though holds significance in MP which has a high rate of farmers’ suicides. Meanwhile, the electorate has not given any clear signs about its inclination this time.

The issue of reservation and quota has hit the state badly after the April 2 Dalit Mahabandh. It evoked a sharp response from members of the upper castes, primarily in the Gwalior-Chambal and Vindhya regions. The emergence of SAPAKS too added to the mix though an internal rift in the party made sure the vehement movement fizzled out in the run up to polls. Still, the quota sentiments could impact poll outcomes on many seats especially where the SAPAKS has managed to field powerful candidates.

Delayed Bhavantar Bhugtan payments could also have a bearing on polling trends in rural pockets where the marriage and crop season is upon farmers, but liquidity is still hassling farmers. Timely payments were an issue since the scheme was launched last year.

Another prominent factor impacting the polling trend is caste equations, especially in the aftermath of quota stir, voters cutting across the political affinity are throwing their support for candidates that belong to any particular caste or community. For commoners, fuel prices could also affect their electoral choices.

A divided opposition is also altering poll dynamics as the Congress failed to ally with the BSP, the SP and the Gondwana Gantantra over seat sharing. In case of a fractured mandate, these regional forces could be at the helm of affairs or play kingmaker.

With no sweeping wave visible in MP polls, it’s virtually a candidate v/s candidate election where the voters are focusing on local civic issues, image and presence of candidates among them.

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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