The contestants’ fate in Madhya Pradesh is sealed. If Congress doesn’t win, its national campaign to unseat BJP will falter
While Madhya Bharat is the preferred nomenclature among the saffron faithful for the State of Madhya Pradesh, it may help — now that the polling for the 230-Member state Assembly is over — to remember that the State is the primary successor to the colonial Central Provinces which were a stronghold of many Hindu riyasats, minor and not-so-minor and their network of feudal zamindars or princelings. In the runup to and for the first decade following Independence till the creation of the State of Madhya Pradesh in 1956, much of the support, especially financial and logistical for the Hindu Mahasabha, RSS and others of the saffron ilk, came from these sources though the Congress Party was dominant politically and electorally. As the Madhya Pradesh Tourism campaign puts it, it is the Heart of India; not just because of its geographical location at the crossroads of the Hindi heartland States but also because it has been the crucible of historical currents. On December 11, when the votes of the good people of Madhya Pradesh are counted, incumbent BJP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and the party top brass in Delhi will naturally be hoping to make history with a record fourth consecutive term but the results would arguably have more historical significance if the Congress is first past the post.
Senior leaders within the party are acutely aware that, despite the BJP showing signs of catching up in Rajasthan, it is the Congress that is considered the clear frontrunner to dislodge the Vasundhara Raje regime there unless last-minute disaster strikes. In Telangana, the emerging situation seems exactly the opposite with the Congress-led Opposition alliance, including the TDP, CPI and smaller regional parties having gained considerable ground on the K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) helmed Telangana Rashtra Samithi but the latter is still expected to scrape through at the very least. Reports coming into the AICC headquarters indicate that the Congress has a slightly better than even chance of retaining power in the Christian-majority State of Mizoram, which also voted on Wednesday. With Chhattisgarh already having finished voting in two phases, the buzz is that the last few weeks of the campaign saw BJP fortunes take a dip even though Dr Raman Singh’s personal popularity remained high and that if he does manage a win, it will be a wafer-thin one in a State known for close contests; and the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati alliance may yet be kingmaker.
All of which leaves Madhya Pradesh, with 29 Lok Sabha seats, as the vital battleground for the Congress, where despite being out of power for 15 years, it has managed to more or less hold on to its support base thanks in the main to its regional satraps from the State including Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia and the like having pretty assiduously nursed their areas of influence despite a decade-and-a-half of being in the Opposition. It is precisely for this reason that the party knows it has the weaponry with which to blow gaping holes in the chinks that have appeared in Chouhan’s armour, provided its satraps don’t turn on each other. Instances of which, we needn’t remind you, the history of the erstwhile Central Provinces is replete with.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer