Assembly elections: Third force remains a mirage - BJP and Congress main contenders in MP

BJP-Congress Photograph:( DNA )

Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India Nov 14, 2018, 12.48 PM (IST) Lalit Shastri

The potential of a third force emerging in Madhya Pradesh as a result of the widespread anger and rage, especially among the officers, employees and the youth belonging to the unreserved category, who are feeling the brunt and suffering due to the caste-based system of reservation in jobs, educational institutions and promotion, has got frittered away by the narrow political ambitions some people who recently joined Sapaks Samaj.

Sapaks Samaj is a body of citizens crusading against the quota system since 2016, and have brazenly tried to hijack the social outfit to meet their narrow political ends by getting a political party registered by the same name as Sapaks (Sapaks has become a brand to reckon with and is the popular abbreviation for “Samanya Pichda Alpsankhyak Kalyan Samaj Sanstha”). 

This has not only spread confusion as people are wondering whether Sapaks, the social organisation, is now doing politics. It has also split the Sapaks movement into two.

What’s added fuel to fire is the role played by another outfit - Samanya Pichda Alpsankhyak Varg Adhikari Karmchari Sanstha - formed about three years ago by state government officers and employees. It is also called Sapaks. 

The network of those actively associated with this organisation, which is caught in a legal wrangle in the Supreme Court over the Madhya Pradesh provision for Reservation in promotion has worked overtime to generate resources and build the support base for Sapaks Party before its registration. 

This was evident during the September 30 rally in Bhopal organised jointly by the two Sapaks organisations much before the registration of Sapaks Party. As a consequence of this, the momentum gained by Sapaks over the last two years will now take several years to repair the damage that has been caused to the Movement against reservation in Madhya Pradesh. The Sapaks Movement had touched its peak on September 6 when the response to the call for the nation-wide bandh against the amendment to the SC/ST Atrocities Act was total in Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the two main political rivals in MP - Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, are fighting their own battles during the final lap of electioneering before polling on November 28. Their immediate crisis is linked to the rebel factor.  On this count, while the Congress leaders are claiming that the problem vis-a-vis the rebels is under control, the BJP is finding the going tough. Sartaj Singh, a former Union Minister, who had once defeated Congress senior late Arjun Singh in the Hoshangabd parliamentary constituency and was recently dropped from the State Cabinet by Shivraj Singh Chouhan, is now fighting on a Congress ticket. 

Former state minister Ramkrishna Kusmaria has also turned rebel. After efforts to bring him on track by state BJP President Rakesh Singh and general secretary in-charge organisational affairs Suhas Bhagat failed, Kusmaria even refused to meet national vice president of the party Prabhat Jha on Tuesday. Raghavji, a long-term state finance minister, who was shown the door after he was booked and arrested on the charge of sexually exploiting his male servant in July 2013, has filed his papers as a Sapaks party candidate.

Senior BJP managers have been in touch with him to dissuade him from taking this course. Former Gwalior Mayor Samiksha Gupta is among so many others who have distanced themselves from the BJP and have filed their nomination papers and entered the election fray as independent candidates. 

Besides the third force, the rebel factor, and candidates belonging to the Samajwadi Party, Aam Aadmi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, a large number of Independent candidates are hopeful of reaping a big harvest of seats in as there is also a deep undercurrent of anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh. The anger against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is overflowing in Budhni, which happens to be his home turf and constituency. A video showing a village woman shouting at the chief minister’s wife Sadhna Singh, for poor availability of water, when she had gone campaigning at her doorstep has gone viral. 

Of course, enthused by this is former state Congress President Arun Yadav, who has been pitted against the chief minister in Budhni by the Congress party.

The BJP leaders are discounting all these angles. They are affirming that the RSS cadres would now work with the vengeance and play a huge role in converting votes in favour of the BJP since the Congress manifesto has raised a huge controversy by targeting the RSS and demanding that government servants be kept out of its reach.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)
 

Lalit Shastri

Lalit Shastri is an Indian journalist, editor, environmentalist and a wildlife film maker

Story highlights

Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress are fighting their own battles during the final lap of electioneering before polling on November 28. Their immediate crisis is linked to the rebel factor.