Saturday, May 03, 2008

Madhya Pradesh Analysis April


The Betul by-election outcome is likely to make a deep impact on the assembly elections scheduled in November this year. Buoyed by Betul result, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is likely to have a greater say in the future ticket distribution. The results have given the Chief Minister a greater say in preparing ground for the assembly elections.

BJP candidate Hemant Khandelwal polled a total of 3, 00,674 votes against 2, 65,234 scored by Sukhdev Panse from Congress, a sitting MLA. After the recent defeat of BJP in Khargone Lok Sabha and Shivpuri, Sanwer and Lanjhi assembly by-elections, the party candidate emerging triumph in Betul has provided the much needed relief to its workers.

After the Betul result, ministers in whose constituencies, the party was defeated might face some hard questions. Informed sources feel that in the event of poor showing by BJP, Chouhan would have been dependent upon party leadership and high command for working out strategies for forthcoming assembly elections but now his recommendations and views would find bigger space in the next round of assembly elections.

Though the BJP emerged triumphed in Betul still it lost two assembly segments Harda and Masaud which analyst feel is an indication that the ruling party is losing base in these segments.

Chindwara warhorse and Union commerce minister Kamal Nath has reasons to feel low these days. Firstly his candidate for the Rajya Sabha Seat, Vivek Tankha was not able to make into the upper house despite Kamalnath putting his best efforts and then came the Betul result.

Betul verdict came as a big blow to Kamal Nath as he had camped in Betul for a long time and campaigned extensively in favour of Congress candidate Sukhdev Panse. Sources close to Kamal Nath have suggested that he is blaming party colleague and state PCC chief Suresh Pachori among others for the debacle in Betul as he feels that the state Congress body was more interested in Kamal Nath losing his face than Sukhdev Panse winning. It must be also added that senior Congress functionaries had cautioned Kamalnath that Betul would be a tough nut and he should not waste his force there.

BJP won the Betul seat for the fifth time in a row. Congress during the campaigning had paraded its MPs Sachin Pilot and Priya Dutt besides AICC Secretary Jitin Prasad while BJP relied on party president Rajnath Singh to emerge winner.

Betul has always been a saffron bastion and the Congress has emerged victorious on only two previous occasions. Fist when the whole of India was experiencing the Indira wave and the second when the Congress was riding on popularity of Rajiv Gandhi.

The inner discontent that had emerged in the party ever since Suresh Pachori took over as the new state PCC chief has now lost some of its steam. This has been possible after every major faction was given a representation in various local Congress bodies. This has given Pachori much needed time to concentrate on other important matters like working on the groundwork for the assembly elections.

The state PCC is focusing on spreading UPAs achievement among the electorate in the state. Pachori has asked the workers to highlight achievement like 27 percent quota in educational institutions and setting up of first of its kind 'tribal university' in Amarkantak among the voters. The PCC is also working on the lines of linking both these ‘achievements’ to Arjun Singh , as they feel that this will increase the benefits as Arjun Singh is from Madhya Pradesh.

With only six-months in hand Bharatiya Janata Party has established an election cell in the state party headquarters under Anil Dave, state BJP vice president who has been appointed in-charge of the cell.

The BJP meanwhile launched the ambitious the state-level Mukhya Mantri Annapurna Yojana which would provide subsidized food grains to BPL families. Under this scheme, each BPL family (holder of blue ration card) would be provided 20 kilogramme food grains per month. Wheat would be provided at the rate of Rs three per kg and rice at the rate of Rs 4.50 per kg from ration shops.

The party had launched a similar program in the neighboring state of Chhattsigarh with much funfair. In the past two-years, ruling BJP Government has launched various people oriented welfare schemes in the State including 50 per cent reservation to women in Gram Panchayat level and ‘Ladli Laxmi Yojna’. Needless to say the forthcoming elections are playing on the minds of both the BJP and Congress, and both are leaving no stone unturned to woo the voters.

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