The election season in India will once again start with the upcoming elections in of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Mizoram. All of them are interestingly states where BJP and Congress will lock horns starting 12 November. The only exception coming in the state of Telangana which have a strong regional player in TRS. The biggest battleground though will be in Madhya Pradesh a state where a lot has happened in last year or so. The election date of 28 November brings with it a test for PM Modi before the 2019 elections to see whether Modi wave is there or not.
In run up to 2019 elections, the state assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh could prove to be a dress rehearsal for BJP and Congress. For both the parties, Madhya Pradesh is a testing ground where parties will have a chance to test their strategies in the state. Like the national scenario, Madhya Pradesh has an incumbent BJP government with Congress trying to revitalize their standing after previous state assembly and the national assembly results. Both the parties are now ready to lock horns in the battleground of Madhya Pradesh. Let’s look at how the Madhya Pradesh state assembly elections will shape up-
BJP- looking to hold and prove
For BJP the state assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh comes with the couple of challenges which it will also deal with in national scenario down the road. BJP has been ruling the state for 13 years now under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Interestingly though they did not win it under him in 2003. It took the charisma of Uma Bharti in 2003 to root out 10-year-old Digvijay Singh led Congress government. BJP has since has managed to get a firm grip in the state and in last Lok Sabha elections won all but 2 seats.
BJP this time around though is facing several issues. The incumbency is the one creeping its head as elections approaches but there are other issues as well which will prove more difficult to deal with. BJP and Amit Shah though has set up a target of 200 seats on the recently concluded workers meeting. The target at onset looks a mammoth task as the state assembly has only 230 seats but considering his previous records he sets this target in every election since 2014. For him and PM Modi though winning the state will be more important at the point then how many seats, a scenario we saw in Gujarat elections as well.
For PM Modi it will be a matter of proving the Congress wrong on multiple issues. Issues like Farmer unrest and Rafael deal will be picked up more often as elections come near. Madhya Pradesh to has seen farmer unrest this year in Mandsaur. Rafael deal will be linked with Vyapam Scam which has been a thorn of MP government. PM Modi could silence all these criticism if BJP retains its bastion in MP.
BJP will be fighting incumbency, farmer upheavals and caste divisions in Madhya Pradesh. With all voters poll till now showing a tough fight. BJP will now be looking towards Sangh to go into a battle mode. With Sangh having a very strong organization in the state, BJP has always relied on them during the election time. On their part, they are yet to field their star campaigners and looks to be testing waters before going in. Read in detail Can BJP win the upcoming Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018?
Congress- Fighting the in-fighting
The upcoming elections in the state will be tested for the resurging Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. Congress is on a high tide after the results of Karnataka, Rafael deal and now CBI debacle. Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a more proactive leader since Gujarat. Mp elections would be a perfect step for him to prove his authority before 2019.
At the state level, Congress looks shakier. They have been in constant in-fighting between the factions of Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath. Both won their respective seats in 2014 elections, only 2 seats Congress won in the state. Up till now, both fractions have worked in sync during the early campaigning, a rare thing but could continue under Rahul Gandhi. The worrying thing emerging from inside party ranks would be Digvijay Singh total absence from the campaigning till now. He is known to stir up controversy in the past and with campaigning escalating, his total disappearance means an order from top to sit out.
The order also seems to elevate Kamal Nath to state Congress president. Putting an end to the tussle between him and Jyotiraditya Scindia in the state. The elevation comes as a result of past failures of Mr. Scindia along with Kamal Nath closeness to Rahul Gandhi. He is known to be a close aide of Congress President, thus is preferred over his younger colleague. The younger formula does not always apply in Congress party. The balancing act between the two factions did come later as Jyotiradtya Scindia was made the election campaign chief. For Congress maintaining this fine balance could prove to be a handful when ticket allotting comes. Read in detail Can congress win MP elections 2018?
Aam Admi Party- the new kids on the block
AAP has been eyeing to enter states other than Delhi and Punjab and after failure in Gujarat, they are hoping to better their fortunes in Madhya Pradesh. They did field candidates in 2014 in few cities with no real outcomes. This time around though they are going to be a force in at least 170 seats and will be looking to pry away voters who are disenchanted by BJP and Congress. They have already announced their Alok Agrawal as their CM candidate and have started campaigning in rural parts.
In Madhya Pradesh, AAP will be looking to enter a state with a large rural population. A challenge they are yet to win. Delhi and Punjab both states largely urbanized, AAP has yet to seriously enter a state where rural politics is different from the city. Madhya Pradesh looks to be their best bet in entering in one. With their cadre working for more than 4 years now and seem to have made inroads in the state politics.
Mayawati and others- looking towards a bigger picture
Bahujan Samajwadi Party along with Samajwadi Party have announced that they are set to fight the elections alone. The Grand Alliance as it was in the By-Polls will not be continued in the state assembly polls. BSP in Madhya Pradesh has very little influence all over the state but could dictate seats of Chambal and Bundelkhand.
The separation will dent Congress’s vote share and they know it. On the other hand, BSP and SP are hoping to play a bigger role in Madhya Pradesh in exchange for their support in 2019. The call to go separate from Congress points to a rift between the Grand Alliance partners. Both the sides have blamed each other but are also reluctant to go head on. Leaving a door open for future alliances.