New Delhi: The Congress seems to be playing all the right moves in Madhya Pradesh. Learning its lessons from Karnataka Assembly polls, the grand old party has decided to give its local unit chief Kamal Nath a free hand in taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party in the forthcoming state elections.
The Congress has decided to concentrate only on raising local issues while it attacks the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, a strategy which served the party well in the southern state where its leaders desisted from raking up any national issues. Another move being aggressively followed is to target the economically weaker sections of society with subsidies and promises of welfare measures.
By following these simple principles, Congress hopes to wrest power from the saffron front and ensure that the party is able to secure another major state ahead of the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The Congress, led by its leader Kamal Nath, is seemingly confident of a return in Madhya Pradesh. Upbeat over the recent win the senior leader also announced that 100 units of electricity will be free for residents of the state while half charge will be levied up to 200 units. The former chief minister has also promised that women will be given Rs 1500 per month from the government without any pre-conditions.
The Congress has also promised restoration of the Old Pension Scheme, a move that proved to be a game-changer in the party’s win in Himachal Pradesh earlier. Sounding the poll bugle, Nath is already on a tour of the state to create awareness about these proposed welfare measures and also to reconnect with the masses.
Putting an end to factionalism in Congress
Madhya Pradesh Congress had been facing problems related to factionalism for the past several years. Senior leaders like Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiaditya Scindia had led their factions openly indulge in politicking against each other.
However, with just months to go for Assembly polls, this would be perhaps the first time in several years that the grand old party will not be witnessing factionalism-ridden state polls.
It is understood that the two former Chief Ministers, Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, have seemingly reached an agreement regarding the leadership issue in the state. Singh has thrown his weight behind Nath for leading the party in the forthcoming assembly polls and this is expected to augur well for the Congress as it takes on the saffron unit with a united leadership.
Interestingly, this time around it is the BJP which is facing anti-incumbency and is also embattled with issues arising out of factionalism in the crucial state. Though the BJP had secured power in Madhya Pradesh by engineering a split in the Congress and bringing down the Kamal Nath government, Scindia is now becoming a problem in the Gwalior region as he is understood to be adamant about the accommodation of his candidates. Similar problems are being witnessed by the BJP in other regions with powerful leaders like former CM Uma Bharti, senior leaders Narendra Singh Tomar and Kailash Vijayvargiya too seeking to select candidates from their respective regions of dominance in the state.
With 29 Lok Sabha seats, Madhya Pradesh is a crucial state for both the BJP and Congress. The BJP had secured 27 seats in the 2014 general election while it had bettered its performance and secured 28 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the saffron front hopes to maintain its lead over Congress in the state as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to seek his third consecutive term in 2024 general elections.
The saffron unit feels that if it is able to win the forthcoming Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh its chances of retaining its tally of Lok Sabha seats from the state would be much better.
In 2018, the BJP was only able to secure 109 out of 230 seats in the MP Assembly, paving the way for the formation of Kamal Nath-led government after Congress was able to win 114 seats. Though the BJP was later able to engineer a split in the Congress and come back to power.