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David versus Goliath

David versus Goliath
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On entering the poll turf of Madhya Pradesh and analysing the blueprint of the Congress roadmap for the upcoming battle, it clearly emerges to be the battle between the bluebloods. The fight between the Maharaja (Jyotiraditya Scindia) and the Raja (Digvijay Singh) might prove to be a huge spoilsport for the Congress in MP. Even though Scindia’s name tops the chart as the Congress campaigner, Singh is not too happy with his elevation. With slim chances of Singh’s return in the state, his energies are mostly focused on promoting his son Jaivardhan Singh, a Youth Congress leader who might contest from their family seat in Raghogarh.

In the 2008 elections, out of a total of 230 seats, BJP had won143 seats while Congress won 71 odd seats, BSP got 9 seats and others got 9. This would actually be the second election BJP would be fighting under incumbent chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, after Uma Bharti had won in 2003 wiping out rule of former chief minister Digvijay Singh with her popular slogan ‘Sreeman Bantadhar’.

The choppy waters seem to have relatively calmed for Chouhan as Bharti is back in the BJP camp, and doesn’t pose a direct threat to him. When we juxtapose the BJP’s winnability prospects with the Congress, it seems the former should sail through smoothly. BJP clear about its CM choice but in the Congress confusion pervades across the line. Compared to any of the Congress leaders, Chouhan’s presence spreads evenly across the entire state, than being restricted to one pocket.

At a personal level, Chouhan doesn’t face any major anti-incumbency problem, but this might be a huge issue when it comes to his ministers, who face corruption and sex scandal charges. One of the major factors which may prove to be a huge setback for the BJP is that despite possessing leadership clarity, Chouhan’s ministers are very unpopular with the people. In fact, 13 of them face corruption allegations and two of them have been removed. But in entirety that is shielded by the fact that Chouhan himself has a reasonably clean image.

What might just do wonders for the BJP this time is the Modi factor, something which the party is anxiously banking on. Even though MP’s voter base doesn’t work much on the lines of caste or religion, but the NaMo brand might attract first time voters. Narendra Modi’s aggressive campaigns and his first test with national politics might just work for the state.

To Chouhan’s advantage also are the populist schemes that he introduced, keeping people happy in the state. To his accolades added is the phenomenal agricultural growth in the state.
This initiative coupled with his personal charisma, may just launch BJP as the strongest contender in the state. In the case of the Congress, the scenario is completely the opposite, in a way which is similar to  the crisis that exists in BJP’s unit in Delhi.

Undoubtedly the Congress in MP is clearly plagued by a leadership crisis. Even now there is a kind of Digvijay-phobia existing in the minds of people in the state. Two areas which were huge drawbacks during his tenure were electricity and roads. Uma Bharti encashed heavily on these two domains and swept the polls successfully as she labeled Singh as ‘Sreeman Bantadhar’. The Congress also lacks a leader who has pan-state presence. Jyotiraditya Scindia would have a presence in Gwalior and not in Bhopal or Mahakosal.

Also apart from the leadership crisis, the Congress is also a divided house from within. However party vice-president Rahul Gandhi efforts might be to keep the Congress as a united force in MP, it’s a task difficult to achieve. Recently all the top MP leaders (Scindia, Nath and Singh) posed a unit front during Rahul’s rally at Shahdol. The Congress leaders in the state need to resolve their differences to be united in the real sense.

They need to shake off their cosmetic unity, when they step on the stage. Even though Jyotiraditya is the frontrunner for the CM’s post, but will he be able to handle the issue of ticket distribution in the party?

If Nath and Singh get peeved off on this issue, they might refrain from being involved in the election process completely. The Congress has remained out of power for 10 years in MP, and even now if it is consumed by infighting, then its chances of coming back to power seems bleak.

Ironically the party also hasn’t been able to convert Chouhan’s anti-incumbency into votes for the Congress. So, with Chouhan’s kitty loaded with assets which might make BJP sail through this time, the Congress is still trying to keep its house in order to portray a united face, hoping things might work for them in MP.
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