The Bharatiya Janata party has turned the campaign for the upcoming by-election in Madhya Pradesh into a contest between “son of the soil” Shivraj Singh and “entrepreneur” Kamal Nath.
Congress leader Dinesh Gurjar’s “Bhookhe-Nange” (impoverished) jibe at chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has given the BJP the arsenal to accuse the Congress of being anti-poor.
VD Sharma, president of the BJP‘s state unit told HT that the statement reflects how detached Congress is from the ground and the contempt its leaders hold for the poor.
“We are going to the people with a simple message that Kamal Nath is not a public figure, he is an ‘Udyogpati’ (entrepreneur) who came to Madhya Pradesh to fill his coffers. He is not a leader, but only a manager who was a ‘darbari’ (courtier) for the Congress and the Gandhi family. The campaign lays bare the five months of Kamal Nath government’s misrule in the state,” Sharma said.
In the campaign rallies and the outreach through social media, the BJP has been alleging that the Kamal Nath government transferred schemes meant for the development of the whole state to his own constituency in Chhindwara.
“Take the case of an agriculture college that was sanctioned for the Bundelkhand area, it was forcibly moved to Chhindwara. A Rs 1400 crore super-specialty medical college and irrigation projects meant for Bundelkhand and Bhind were also transferred to Chhindwara and 2.43 lakh houses under the PM Awas Yojana could not be built because the state government refused to release its share of 24% of funds for their construction,” Sharma said.
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Bypolls will be held in the state on November 3 to fill 28 seats in the legislative assembly. Of these 28 vacancies, 22 arose after congress MLAs along with senior Congress leader and former minister Jyotiraditya Scindia broke away from the Kamal Nath government and joined the BJP.
The BJP which has 107 MLAs needs 9 more to reach the half-way mark in the house, while the Congress with 88 needs to win all the 28 seats if it hopes to return to power.
On how the party will defend the government’s Covid-19 containment response and the large scale movement of migrant workers during the pandemic, Sharma said, the state would have been worse-off had the Congress been in power.
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“Swift action was taken to ensure that the hospitals are equipped and there is provision for medicines and oxygen. In five months Rs 22,000 crore was transferred to farmers; similarly welfare schemes discontinued by Kamal Nath were restarted, so there is no anger against the government,” he said.
According to functionaries involved in the electioneering process, the BJP has set a target of winning over 25 seats to give the government the cushion it needs to formulate policy without requiring support from independents or friendly parties.
“Campaigning is being done across the election bound constituencies keeping the Covid protocol in mind. But our Panna Pramukhs have been given the duty to ensure that people come out to vote in large numbers. They have been tasked to alleviate the fear that voters might have about voting during the pandemic,” Sharma said.
Political analysts Shirish Kashikar said the jibe at Chauhan will work in favour of the BJP. “While the party will definitely gain from highlighting this jibe; the goodwill that Scindia has in the region is a big factor that will help the party gain electorally,” he said.
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