The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is confronted with double anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, whereas the major opposition Congress has been left alone in the two central Indian states now in the grip of poll fever.
After remaining in power for 15-years, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is confronted with double anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, whereas the major opposition Congress, which was ready to forge an alliance with both the BSP and Samajwadi Party in the midst of the hype generated recently over the prospects of a grand alliance to take on the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary election, has been left alone in the two central Indian states now in the grip of poll fever.
The Congress received the first blow when shortly after announcing an alliance with Janata Congress of Ajit Jogi in Chhattisgarh in the second fortnight of September, BSP Supremo Mayawati went ahead and ruled out any kind of alliance with the Congress party in MP.
The Samajwadi Party also has chosen to maintain distance from the Congress party in MP.
Recently the caste factor has got precipitated due to the amendment in the SC/ST Atrocities Act at the initiative of the Modi government at the Centre and with the full support of all the political parties. This amendment was brought to undo the Supreme Court of India order directing that no one booked under the Atrocities Act should be arrested without a preliminary enquiry.
The violent protests by Dalits after the apex court order and the massive Bharat Band (strike) against the amendment in the Atrocities Act indicate the magnitude of the caste divide. Obviously, therefore, driven by the motive of retaining their respective vote banks among the Dalits and the backward communities, the BSP and Samajwadi Party have chosen to go alone in MP.
For the last many years, the ruling BJP has been working concertedly to expand its base in the tribal areas of MP and Chhattisgarh by building a network of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram schools and colleges. The Vivekananda Kendra functionaries have also been in the overdrive mode in the tribal areas in recent years. This has brought dividends and in successive elections, there’s been a remarkable upward swing in BJP’s electoral fortunes in the tribal belt.
In the 2018 MP Assembly election, there are multiple dimensions when it comes to the battle for the Assembly seats reserved for the STs. Besides the BJP and Congress, now there is also a tribal group attracting huge crowds under the banner of Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) in western MP.
After talks for seat sharing between the Congress and JAYS have failed, the Gondwana Gantantra Party, having strong roots in the tribal areas, and Samajwadi Party have decided to go together in MP and Chhattisgarh.
In MP, both the ruling BJP and Congress should be ready for a backlash due to seething anger against the quota system and the Atrocities Act.
The State is witnessing a crusade against the government provision for reservation in promotion for SCs and STs by an organisation called SAPAKS formed by State government officers and employees belonging to the general, backward and minority communities.
SAPAKS Samaj, another body formed by citizens to extend support to the aggrieved government employees, is also spearheading a State-wide movement since 2016 to build public awareness against the pitfalls of reservation on caste lines and the Atrocities Act.
A large section of SAPAKS Samaj is backing the newly floated Anarakshit Samaj Party in this election, which is for reservation only on an economic basis. In the meanwhile, galvanised by a huge SAPAKS rally in Bhopal, a faction within SAPAKS Samaj that has floated a political party, also by the name of “Sapaks”, has repeatedly kept on announcing that it would be fielding candidates in all the 230 Assembly constituencies of MP even before its registration by the Election Commission of India.
Notwithstanding the confusion created by Sapaks Party, there is every indication that a vast majority of the youth would be voting with vengeance on the issue of reservation and the Atrocities Act in Madhya Pradesh.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)