Spotlight on Vidisha LS seat in MP

Author: 
Harihar Swarup

The Lok Sabha elections are still far off but a disclosure by AICC General Secretary, Digvijaya Singh, that he was prepared to contest against Leader of the Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, from Vidisha constituency in May 2014 Lok Sabha election, has all the elements of surprise. Vidisha has been a RSS stronghold and the constituency has been returning BJP candidates election after election. Such stalwarts as former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, newspaper baron, the late Ram Nath Goenka and the disgraced BJP minister Raghavji contested from there. At the moment, however, the BJP stocks are down are slightly down because of involvement of Raghavji in a homosexuality case. The exploits of Raghavji, who was finance minister in Shivraj Singh Chouhan Singh Government, may affect the BJP’s prospects in the entire state. Raghavji belongs to Vidisha has and never lost an election from there.

BJP sources say if the Central leadership asks Digivjaya to contest against Sushma Swaraj, she may even think of changing her constituency. After all, she does not belong to Madhya Pradesh.

What is more important is a series of coming elections in the states in the run up to December. The outcome of these elections will set the tone for the Lok Sabha poll.

The elections are due in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, ruled by the BJP, in December and the Congress-ruled Rajasthan and Delhi are also slated to go to poll at the same time. If Sheila Dikshit wins in Delhi, it will create a record. No Chief Minister, except Jyoti Basu, has won for a record fourth time. Judging by the good work Sheila Dikshit has done, it will not be a surprise if she wins for the fourth time. It is no exaggeration to say that she has changed the face of Delhi.

Initial reports indicated that the BJP is all set to oust the Congress under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje but later reports disclosed that Ashok Ghelot has recovered much of the lost ground. Few popular schemes quietly launched by him have started yielding results. Still nobody can predict the exact situation in the run up to election. There is, no doubt, that Gehlot Government suffers from anti-incumbency factor.

The public welfare schemes launched by the Gehlot government includes -- CM’s food security programme, ensuring free food to those below poverty line, free medical help, free maternity care, free medical aid for animals, interest free loans to Kisans for their crops, free education to children and rural road development programme.

Few know that Ashok Gehlot is a magician, which he inherited from his ancestors. His rivals feel that he may whip out some magical trick to mesmerise the people to vote for the Congress.

From all accounts, the BJP is much better placed in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress is in disarray and it has yet to zero on a tall leader to lead the party’s poll campaign. The only leader of stature is Digvijaya Singh who is not interested in going back to state politics but he will have an important role to play in the upcoming election. The Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia is likely to be projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate. It will be seen if he can oust firmly entrenched Shivraj Singh Chauhan.

Despite all the claims made by Chauhan of a clean leader, his rule has not been corruption free. A section of the BJP leadership wanted to project him as the Prime Ministerial candidate but could not make any headway.  His only plus point is that the Congress is ill-prepared to face the BJP challenge. It will, however, not be an easy sail for Chauhan.

If the year 2012 was bleak for the Congress, which continued to be besieged by an avalanche of scams and anti-graft agitation – 2013 looks equally grim. The Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had managed to bridge governance deficit to some extent by finally pushing FDI in multi-brand retail, kick-starting the landmark direct benefits transfer scheme and hanging of the 26/11 accused Ajmal Kasab. But the year ahead is strewn with thorns when important states go to poll.

The food security Bill is also stuck. Even if the government manages to pass it by the end of the mason session, experts say it could take more than a year for the benefit to percolate down. Another worry for the Congress is that the canny state satraps such as Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh, MP’s Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar are cloning the food security scheme through the public distribution system in their states, taking sheen out of the central scheme. 

          There are also question marks about the Congress party’s ability to leverage political capital out of schemes such as direct benefits transfer and food security. The cash transfer scheme may not prove to be the “game changer” that it has touted to be. In the absence of logistics and necessary infrastructure, it may take more than a year to implement the scheme in all the 600-odd districts across the country. (IPA)

Tuesday, 27 August, 2013