Bypolls in Madhya Pradesh

L.S. Herdenia

The election campaign has come to a halt in two constituencies of Madhya Pradesh where voting will he held on April 9. The two constituencies are Ater and Bandhavgarh. In the last election Ater was won by the Congress. The Ater voters elected Satyadev Katare, who was installed as the leader of the opposition. However he died after a prolonged serious decease. The Congress has chosen to sponsor, Hemant Katare his son.
The other constituency is Bandhavgarh which was represented by Gyan Singh. Gyan Singh was a member of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan ministry. He was asked to resign and was nearly forced to contest Lok Sabha by-election. He won the Lok Sabha seat. Despite becoming Lok Sabha member he continued to be the minister and refused to resign. He made it clear that he would resign only after he gets assurance that his son will be chosen as BJP candidate for the by poll. He had his way and succeeded in getting party ticket for his son. His continuation in the ministry despite becoming Lok Sabha member caused serious controversy. It was pointed out that it was improper for him to hold to the ministerial birth.
Since Ater elected Congress candidate in 2013 and Bandhavgarh BJP, both the parties are trying hard to retain their seats. While the BJP is confident in retaining Bandhavgarh it is trying hard to win Ater also.
Ater falls in the area in which Scindia family wields considerable influence. In his bid to snatch Ater from Congress, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan hit the Scindia family below the belt. He said that Scindia's were hand in glove with British rulers in suppressing freedom movement. In particular he referred to the betrayal of Rani Laxmi Bai during 1857 war of independence. Though  Jyotiraditya Scindia who staked his prestige in this constituency did not react and chose to keep mum about Chouhan's remark but it caused great resentment in a section of the BJP itself. Perhaps Chouhan forgot that a section of Scindia family has been with the BJP since sixties. At present Mrs Yashodhara Scindia is a member of Chouhan cabinet and Vasundra Raje Scindia is the chief minister of Rajasthan. Though Jyotiraditya Scindia chose to be silent, his aunt Yashodhara publicity expressed her displeasure over remark about Scindia's past. Many BJP leaders felt that Chouhan should have avoided controversial comment. There is every reason to believe that Chouhan's comment may affect a section of voters who still hold Scindia family in high esteem.
Jyotiraditya Scindia has plunged in the electioneering with great enthusiasm. He also received powerful support from Kamal Nath, another Congress Stalwart from Madhya Pradesh. Scindia's public meetings are largely attended. In order to win over Dalit voters he even had meals in Dalit families in the company of Kamal Nath. Reports indicate that Congress is putting up a united show. Dr. Govind Singh a staunch follower of opposition leader Ajay Singh has joined hands with Scindia and jointly campaigning with Scindia.
Ater assembly constituency, where Scindia wields influence, has also become a prestige fight for BJP. While chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched a campaign on April 6 in four major polling areas to woo voters in favour of BJP candidate Arvind Singh Bhadoria, Congress is countering with a massive electioneering effort by Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath and Mohan Prakash in rural areas.
Scindia visited homes of dalits and shared meals with them. His son Mahan Aryaman is also campaigning in favour of Congress candidate Hemant Katare in the constituency.
Observers say the caste factor and anti-incumbency may play spoilsport for BJP in a Congress-held seat where the major issue is lack of development. People in this Chambal region demand basic facilities.
The CM will camping there for two days. "For 27 years Bhind was reeling under severe water crisis. Even after construction of Chambal canal there was no respite. After 2003, BJP government took up the issue and made arrangement for water to reach the very last village of Bhind district," said the CM at a public meeting in Ater.
Chouhan praised former district collector of Bhind, Illaiya Raja T, who was transferred in the wake of the "faulty EVM" controversy, and called him an "honest officer". Congress however objected to Chouhan's remarks.
Chouhan addressed eight public meetings and organised rallies and road shows, harping on welfare programmes launched by the BJP government. Union minister for rural development Narendra Singh Tomar has addressed several public meetings in Ater. On Friday, the CM held road shows in Ater and address public meetings in Bhounpura, Pipri, Chomho, Pratappura and Phoop.
The Congress alleged misuse of government machinery by the BJP government and attacked the BJP for its "failure on the development front in rural areas". Congress hopes to gain from the sympathy wave for senior leader Satyadev Katare, who had developed a close personal contact with voters of Ater.
The Election Commission has banned publication or transmission of any opinion poll or exit poll by the print and electronic media during the by-elections. The electioneering for by-poll will end on Friday at 5 pm, said the officials. (IPA)

Monday, 10 April, 2017