By-elections and politics IN MP

L.S. Herdenia

What will be the ultimate impact of the results of State Assemblies' election on the politics of Madhya Pradesh it is difficult to say at this stage but the BJP has already started thinking about the strategy it should adopt to ensure consecutive fourth victory in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections which are due in the year 2018. The BJP won majority in the 2003, 2008 and 2013. While 2003 elections were fought under the leadership of Uma Bharati, subsequent two elections were fought under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Whether 2018 election will also be contested under Chouhan's leadership, is a big question mark.
After shifting of Union Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar to Goa, rumour started taking round in the political circles that Shivraj Singh Chouhan may be the new defence minister. Though at that stage it was a rumour but it suddenly took a serious shape when union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste issued a statement saying that we will be happy and that we will welcome Chouhan's appointment as defence minister. It was so embarrassing for the Chief Minister Chouhan that he had to contradict the speculation saying that there was no question of his moving to the centre. But this rumour gave opportunity to a section of BJP leadership to think who should be at the helm during 2018 elections.
Whatever may be the thinking of the leadership but this fact can't be denied that there is a widespread discontent bordering anger among the people. There are reports of rampant corruption. There is not a single area in which things can move without bribery. Things are also not happy in education and health sectors. Criminals feel emboldened in the state. Sand mafia and mine mafia are operating without any fear of the law and order machinery. Reports of violent attacks on police and civilian officers find headlines in media. Reports also reveal that people belonging to ruling party are part of this mafia. The Vyapam scam has already damaged the image of the state government. More than 40 people, in some or other way, connected with the Vyapam scam, were found dead in mysterious circumstances,.
There is also total financial mismanagement in the state. The state government owes the debt of more than Rs. One lakh Crore. Thus there is total anti-incumbency mood in the state. The question is whether Congress, which is the only party having the potential to challenge the hegemony of the BJP, is in a position to do so. State Congress is a badly organised party. There is hardly any grassroots organisation of the Congress. It is also badly divided party. Despite its weaknesses, the Congress could put up a strong show of strength when on Feb. 22 it tried to gherao Vidhan Sabha. But it is difficult to say that the party still continued to be united organisation. It is perhaps due to the weakness of the Congress that BJP has been registering victories in almost all the Assembly by-elections. It also registered massive victories in the elections for local bodies. Almost all the civic corporations are headed by BJP leaders.
Results of two Assembly by-elections polling for which will be held on April 9, may give some indication of the impact of recently held state Assembly elections on the politics of the state. The two constituencies where polling will held on April 9 are Ater and Bandhavgarh. While Ater was declared vacant because of the death of Satyadev Katare, who was leader of the opposition and Bandhavgarh became vacant after its sitting MLA Gyan Singh, who was also a Minister was elected to the Lok Sabha in a by-election. Both the Congress and BJP have announced their candidates for the seats.
State Congress on March 15 announced candidates for Ater and Bandhavgarh assembly by polls. The party has fielded Hemant Katare, son of former leader of opposition late Satyadev Katare from Ater in Bhind district.
Savitri Singh will be the Congress candidate for Bandhavgarh. BJP also on March 15 cleared the names of Arvind Singh Bhadoria as party candidate for Ater (Bhind) and Shivnarayan Singh for Bandhavgarh assembly by polls slated for April 9.
A meeting of the state election committee headed by BJP state chief Nandkumar Singh Chauhan and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took the decision in this regard. Shivnarayan is the son of minister for SC/ST welfare Gyan Singh whose election to the Lok Sabha last year necessitated the bypolls. The state election committee meeting was held in the presence of its eight members. "We have forwarded the names of Bhadoria for Ater and Shivnarayan for Bandhavgarh (ST) seats to the Central election committee in New Delhi," Nandkumar Singh told reporters at the party's regional head office after the meeting. The results of these two by polls will indicate which way the political wind will blow in the state. (IPA)

Saturday, 18 March, 2017