MP by-elections and rehearsals for Assembly poll

L.S. Herdenia

Both Congress and BJP are treating two Vidhan Sabha bye-elections as semi-finals for the Vidhan Sabha elections, which are scheduled to be held at the end of this year. The two seats – Kolaras and Mungawali – fell vacant due to the death of sitting members. Of the two, Mungawali was represented by Mahendra Singh Kalukheda, who was considered to be a Scindia loyalist. He was regarded as political secretary of Madhav Rao Scindia, who commanded great influence in MP politics. After Madhav Rao’s death in an air crash, Jyotiraditya Scindia filled the vacuum and Kalukehda continued to be loyal to the Scindia family. Thus Mungawali is a matter of personal prestige for Jyotiraditya Scindia. So, he is making all out effort to retain that seat.
For Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also it is an equally prestigious contest. He has already made several rounds of the constituency and made several announcements to lure the voters. The propaganda for BJP candidate is so blatant that Congress was compelled to make a written complaint to the Election Commission. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Arun Yadav, Vivek Tankha and AICC general secretary in-charge of state affairs Deepak Babaria submitted a memorandum to the Chief Election Commissioner in New Delhi, alleging “misuse of power and authority” by the state government..
Congress has submitted to the EC a video of Prabhat Jha speaking to government teachers and clippings of newspaper reports. Congress seeks an inquiry and punitive action against Prabhat Jha for “illegally forcing government teachers to participate in political programmes”.
The opposition party demands a high powered committee of independent officers to investigate Jha and other BJP leaders for “muscle power and use of government machinery”. The memorandum also asks for registration of offences against those indulging in “blatant abuse of government machinery and misuse of power, irrespective of such persons being in high positions of power and authority”.
Meanwhile, Congress has started drawing several programmes to approach the voters with the Vidhan Sabha elections in mind. The state Congress has decided to launch political yatras from four corners of the state. This was decided at the core-committee meeting held at New Delhi. The four yatras, led by state Congress stalwarts, will converge in the state capital. The party will also hold public meetings as a part of the event.
“The date for the yatras is being finalised, but it will commence before the end of Digvijay Singh’s Narmada yatra,” leader of opposition Ajay Singh said. It has been decided to start from Gwalior-Shivpuri, Amarkantak and Alirajapur. The final site is yet to be finalised. All the yatras will converge in Bhopal, where a massive public meeting will mark the grand finale, Singh said. Singh also highlighted the differences between BJP’s yatras and the ones to be undertaken by his party. “The BJP yatras are mostly religious in nature, but ours will be totally political much like the Dandi March of 1930,” he said. Issues to be raised will be malnutrition deaths of children, farmer suicides, water and power crisis, unfulfilled promises by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, among others he added.
Reports reaching here from New Delhi indicate that the November Vidhan Sabha elections will be fought under the collective leadership of state congress leaders. The leaders forming the collective panel will include Kamal Nath, Kantilal Bhuria, Jyotiraditya Scindia, leader of opposition Ajay Singh, Suresh Pachori and Arun Yadav, president of the MP Congress Committee.
As far the BJP is concerned, as a first step, the leadership has removed Vinay Sahasrabuddhe as in charge of state BJP. Sahasrabuddhe is regarded as a confidant of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. What made his removal is not known. But there is hectic search for his replacement. Asked to explain reason for this change, he told media “I am appointed to ICCR, but would be working for the party organisation till I am instructed. I have not received any new instruction related to my continuing as state in-charge”.
Sources in the BJP said that Om Prakash Mathur, in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, and Bhupendra Yadav in-charge of Bihar, are the front-runners for the post.
Sahasrabuddhe was appointed in 2014 as state in-charge when BJP president Amit Shah formed his new team. He is a Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra and vice president of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini, which is South Asia’s only training and research academy for elected representatives and voluntary social workers.
The BJP is yet to decide under whose leadership the party will fight the Vidhan Sabha elections. The present state president Nand Kumar Chauhan has completed his term and no decision has been taken about his successor. As for the chief minister, he will like that Nand Kumar should continue to head the state BJP (IPA)

Friday, 19 January, 2018