Congress at Full Throttle in MP After Karnataka Victory
Bhopal: The massive Karnataka victory has given the Congress a fresh breath of air in Madhya Pradesh (MP). The party, which lost its 15-month-long government in the state due to horse-trading, is riding a strong comeback wave ahead of the November Assembly election.
Plagued by factionalism and defection earlier, the Congress seems united ahead of the polls with its two stalwarts and former chief ministers (CMs) Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh managing to keep the flanks together and assigning constituencies to senior leaders to campaign.
Unlike the Karnataka and the 2018 MP Assembly elections, the party has projected Nath as its chief ministerial face after Singh’s green signal.
“Many Congress leaders who did not see eye to eye are working closely with Kamal Nath in the poll run-up,” a senior party functionary told Newsclick.
Not just meetings and the strategy, 76-year-old Nath, who has been visiting key constituencies for the last two months, has tasked Singh to look after 66 seats lost by the Congress thrice or more.
Singh convenes block- and district-level committee meetings during his visits, offers the stage to workers and local leaders in the last row and jots down their grievances and suggestions.
The Rajya Sabha member also meets community leaders and social groups and visits religious places before concluding every tour. He racks up hyper-local issues like corruption and law and order in the districts before the press on the last day of his visit.
“The unity of both the top leaders has sent out a strong message to party leaders, workers and voters,” political analyst Rasheed Kidwai told Newsclick. “Kamal Nath and Digvijay are working on the strategy and spending more time with party workers and voters since the Bharat Jodo Yatra.”
Like its five promises during the Karnataka campaign, the Congress has announced to continue farm loan waiver, implementation of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS), Rs 1,500 a month to women under the Nari Samman Yojana, LPG cylinders at for Rs 500 and free 100 units of power and half payment for 200 units in MP.
The farm loan waiver and free electricity under the Indra Jyoti Scheme were popular during the last Congress regime in MP. According to the Assembly records, Nath had waived off loans of more than 27 lakh small farmers, and the scheme benefitted almost 1.27 crore domestic consumers.
“Loans of 27 lakh farmers were waived in just 15 months. Now, more than 11 lakh farmers who defaulted on loans are waiting for a waiver,” said the party’s national media coordinator Abhay Dubey.
“Out of 6.60 lakh government officials, 4.40 lakh who fall under the New Pension Scheme support the Congress’s promise to restore OPS. Besides, the state has more than 52 lakh Ujjwala beneficiaries who will benefit from the Rs 500 LPG scheme,” he told Newsclick.
Earlier this month, Nath inaugurated the Nari Samman Yojana, which provides Rs 1,500 a month against the BJP’s Rs 1,000 for women between 23 and 60 under its Ladli Behna Yojana.
“This is the first time an opposition party has launched a scheme in an election run-up and we have already collected more than two lakh forms from women,” Nath’s media adviser Piyush Babele said.
The party is preparing an ‘Aarop Patra’, a 150-page book to highlight alleged corruption and law and order problem in the 18 years of BJP rule. The party is also working on the last leg of its manifesto, which will be announced around two months before the election.
“Kamal Nath has instructed the manifesto committee to mention only those promises in the ‘Vachan Patra’ which are financially viable and can be fulfilled,” said Paras Saklecha, a manifesto and Araop Patra team member. “Besides, the party is preparing a separate manifesto for women voters.”
On the other hand, the BJP faces anti-incumbency and internal feuds. On May 6, Deepak Joshi, a former state school education minister and three-time BJP MLA from Bagli and Hathpipaliya Assembly seats (Dewas district), joined the Congress. He is the son of late CM Kailash Joshi, one of the co-founders of the BJP’s predecessor Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
“I am Deepak from Jana Sangh. My father, who gave life to the Bhartiya Jana Sangh and the BJP, was neither respected nor his legacy preserved,” the 60-year-old leader said at the Congress office in Bhopal.
The Congress has targeted Shivraj Singh Chauhan with terms like ‘Nariyal Phod’ and a ‘Ghoshna Veer’ CM who doesn’t fulfil the promises.
More than six BJP leaders have been summoned to Bhopal after they gave statements against their party. To prevent further damage, the party has appointed senior leaders to every district to pacify angry members. According to party sources, a member of Parliament has been asked to unite workers, hold functions and run door-to-door campaigns in four constituencies.
The party will also launch a special campaign on the NDA government completing nine years at the Centre from May 30 and June 30. Besides, Prime Minister Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah will hold more than 25 rallies and 12 roadshows to drum up support.
“I am confident that the BJP will be back in power in Madhya Pradesh …We have Narendra Modi. His policies have benefited crores of voters,” Chouhan said at the working committee’s meeting on Friday making it clear that the party will rely on Modi.
The effect of the Karnataka loss was evident when Chouhan said, “Don’t get panicked by the Karnataka results. We have more than one arrow in our quiver.”
After the meeting, senior BJP leaders targeted Nath and Singh. “Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh were the main targets in the working committee’s meeting,” a BJP leader said. “The party has decided to highlight Digvijay Singh’s 10-year misrule against the BJP’s 18-year development to voters.”
During a recent meeting of the party working committee in Bhopal, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya termed the two Congress leaders “old men” and “spies”.
भोपाल में कैलाश विजयवर्गीय के बोलबचन
कमलनाथ और दिग्विजय को लेकर की टिप्पणी
सोशल मीडिया पर वायरल हो रहा वीडियो
कांग्रेस नेताओं के पास पहुंचा वीडियो
कांग्रेस नेताओं ने कैलाश विजयवर्गीय के बयान पर जताई आपत्ति pic.twitter.com/4ggajIL5JU
— Journalist@UmeshBhardwaj (@umeshindore) May 20, 2023
State BJP president VD Sharma recently referred to Nath as “Commission Nath” and Chouhan termed the Congress’s promises a “bundle of lies”.
Reacting to the comments, the state Congress president said that the BJP has conceded defeat six months before the Assembly election.
“This is happening for the first time in the history of Madhya Pradesh when the ruling party has accepted defeat six months before the election. Senior party leaders, including the CM, are completely cut off from public issues and have lost their balance with the Congress’s pro-people announcements,” Nath tweeted on Saturday.
मध्य प्रदेश के इतिहास में ऐसा पहली बार हो रहा है जब सत्ताधारी पार्टी ने चुनाव से 6 महीने पहले ही हार स्वीकार कर ली हो। मुख्यमंत्री सहित पार्टी के वरिष्ठ नेता जनता के मुद्दों से पूरी तरह कट चुके हैं और कांग्रेस की जनहितैषी घोषणाओं से अपना संतुलन खो बैठे हैं।
वे सब मिलकर सुबह शाम…
— Kamal Nath (@OfficeOfKNath) May 20, 2023
Elections are also due in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Telangana this year. “But Madhya Pradesh is the only state where the saffron party is in power and will use all tricks to retain it,” a senior Congress leader told Newsclick.
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