Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India
Oct 31, 2018, 10.34 AM
Electioneering is yet to pick up and touch the feverish pitch in Madhya Pradesh, especially as the two principal rivals – ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress - have remained caught in the grip of the ticket distribution exercise with claimants and their supporters flocking to camps identified with state party leaders.
The stakes are too high in these elections with Congress trying to dislodge the BJP, which has continuously remained in power for 15-years in Madhya Pradesh and neighbouring Chhattisgarh.
During the week that was, there has been no dearth of those trying to play their cards to the best of their ability. It’s been so starkly visible, how most ticket seekers have cultivated the acumen and were busy demonstrating their strength by brazenly flaunting their SUVs, crisp anti-crease attire, robust gait and money power.
All this, obviously, gets the extra push by the pack of perpetual seekers who hang around the petty leaders in the hope that once their “boss” gets into the Assembly, they would be rewarded amply with the perks of power and fruits of electoral politics. Of course, the crony capitalists are also there acting as punters as they know that the returns on the investment would be in geometric proportion. Obviously, therefore, day-to-day business activity has become less of a priority these days.
To maintain a safe distance from the endless tangle of ticket seekers, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP President Rakesh Singh air-dashed to Delhi to finalise the list of candidates on Monday. The BJP ticket seekers, who have been elbowed out in Chhattisgarh, have demonstrated their ire in a big way. In Madhya Pradesh, BJP president will be directly addressing the ticket seekers to control dissent and reduce the number of rebel candidates in the poll fray.
While the BJP is desperately trying to plug the possibility of a backlash from a large number of rebel candidates, the warring camps in the Congress party are making it difficult for the party mandarins to finalise the tickets, especially for constituencies in big cities.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has predicted BJP’s defeat and a swing in favour of Congress in both Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, has adopted the no-holds-barred strategy. Speaking at election rallies in Jhabua and Ujjain this week, Gandhi went for a frontal attack against Madhya Pradesh chief minister by raising the issue of Vyapam (the massive scam linked with admissions in medical colleges and government recruitments) and the Simhastha scam. At an election rally at Ujjain, Gandhi said that the Kshipra river remains dirty even after the Madhya Pradesh BJP government had spent Rs 400 crore for this purpose. They talk of “dharma” but do not spare even the Mahakumbh, he added. Chouhan has retorted to this by threatening legal action.
During his current round of electioneering, Gandhi did not spare even Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Putting him in the dock on the Rafale deal, he said that the government knew that if there was a thorough probe into this deal by the CBI, the truth would get uncovered. He cited the present CBI controversy (revolving around the Director and his second in command, who have been removed from the scene) as a case in point. Gandhi has also hammered the charge that the Modi government was bent upon undermining the autonomous institutions.
Tailpiece: BJP, also called the saffron party, has been cornered by the Sadhus (Hindu religious saints), who have revolted and given a call to throw out the BJP. At a congregation of a couple of thousand Sadhus at Koteshwar temple in Gwalior on Tuesday, the BJP was slammed for failing to protect the cows and neglecting the Ganges River.
In the coming days, what will be watched closely is the role to be played by Devkinandan Thakur, the world-renowned Katha Vachak, in Madhya Pradesh Assembly election. Devkinandan has a huge following. He strongly opposes reservation on caste lines and the Atrocities Act. The news went viral after he was detained and released by the Police on Monday when he went to offer prayers at Pitambara Peeth at Datia.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)
Lalit Shastri is an Indian journalist, editor, environmentalist and a wildlife film maker
While the BJP is desperately trying to plug the possibility of a backlash from a large number of rebel candidates, the warring camps in the Congress party are making it difficult for the party mandarins to finalise the tickets