Shivraj, Scindia End High Voltage Campaign for MP By-Polls With Eye on Assembly Elections

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia have almost turned their campaigns for the two upcoming by-elections a battle against each other. The high-pitched campaigning for the Mungaoli and Kolaras by-polls ended on Thursday.

Congress had won both the seats in 2013 and the by-elections are now being pegged as a parameter that would help gauge the general mood in Madhya Pradesh ahead of the Assembly elections due later this year.

Though a win or loss would not hamper either the ruling BJP or Congress numerically in Assembly, it has become a battle of prestige for CM Chouhan, who wishes to convey a message that his clout is intact in the poll-bound state while Scindia cannot afford to lose both seats in his home turf, a territory that was ruled by his forefathers.

This is also the reason that Chouhan hasn’t left any stone unturned to attack Scindia’s royal lineage while at the same time presenting himself as the son of a farmer. He even went on to claim that it was Scindia who was responsible for the lack of development and progress in these areas and has promised a turnaround in five months, something that many voters are finding hard to believe.

In a bid to match up Scindia’s royal persona, BJP has fielded his aunt and the Sports and Youth Welfare Minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia in one of the seats only in the first week of February. Her advent is, however, doing damages to her own party after she was found to be threatening voters on two occasions.

Meanwhile, another minister Maya Singh, a close relative of Scindia, has also been roped in the poll battle. For BJP, almost the entire Madhya Pradesh cabinet is busy campaigning, while Scindia for most parts of the campaigning went alone, only to be joined by party seniors towards the second half of the campaign.

The fact that his candidature as the Congress’ CM face in Madhya Pradesh is yet to be endorsed by the party high command, winning these by-elections in his home turf becomes all the more crucial for Scindia. Well aware of this, the BJP, too, is keen to quell his challenge at any cost.

Meanwhile, among the two seats — Kolaras in Shivpuri has an interesting demography. With 30,000 Yadavs holding the key to this constituency, Congress has no other choice than bring up late MLA Prem Singh’s son Mahendra Singh Yadav as a candidate. On the other hand, for CM Chouhan, the Kirars, a community he represents also matches up to these numbers with a population of 25,000 in this constituency.

However, the 30,000 Saharia tribals and 25,000 Jatavs — Scheduled Caste communities — could be the deciding factor. Both being a traditional vote bank of the Congress, BJP has been eyeing them for long and it came as a surprise for many when CM Shivraj sat on the ground with them a day ago and accused Scindia for the lack of development and asked them to try BJP once.

The party had earlier fielded Devendra Jain from Kolaras, who lost to late Prem Singh Yadav in 2013 by a hefty margin. However, the Jains being another dominant community in the seat, the BJP has again fielded Jain.

The fight in Mungaoli is based in Ashoknagar — in the vicinity of the Bina oil refinery and Chanderi — is more issue based. The town still depends heavily of agriculture for a living. Here also, the BJP and Congress are blaming each other for the lack of progress.

BJP has fielded Baisaab Yadav, wife of late Deshraj Singh Yadav, who had a sizeable sway in the region and was among those politicians who stood up to Scindia in his bastion.

With a 1.91 lakh strong electorate, the constituency is another Yadav-dominated area and also has the representation of SCs and tribals. Part of Scindia’s Parliamentary seat, Guna is a must-win battle for the Congress leader on a seat that was vacated by the demise of his father’s staunch loyalist –Mahendra Singh Kalukheda — who had defeated Deshraj Singh Yadav by over 20,000 votes.

Given the deeply rooted reverence for the Scindia family in both Mungaoli and Kolaras, the BJP, as many believe, has a daunting task at hand.

The fate of the candidates would be sealed inside EVMs on February 24, but numerous complaints by Congress over alleged breach of Model Code of Conduct, removal of administrative officers over anomalies and vitriolic political atmosphere has already started doing the rounds.