BJP to face tough battles in State polls for M.P

In Chhattisgarh Raman Singh government is currently facing challenges from its police force as they are on an agitation path demanding better facilities, allowances, fixed duty hours and weekly offs, among other things.

(Kushal Jeena)

The Bhartiya Janata Party which has been ruling key northern states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for three consecutive terms seems all set to face tough decisive electoral battles in the upcoming assembly polls later this year as discontent among people has been growing over the years against the respective governments for their failure on different counts.

In Chhattisgarh Raman Singh government is currently facing challenges from its police force as they are on an agitation path demanding better facilities, allowances, fixed duty hours and weekly offs, among other things. The government has been following a confrontationist attitude and leaving no stone unturned to crush the police rebellion in which wives of police personnel have joined the agitation. The state of Chhattisgarh has a strong 70,000 police force.

In Madhya Pradesh the opposition has moved a no-confidence motion against BJP government led by the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan accusing it of making changes in rules of procedure in the state assembly to take the rights of legislators. The main opposition party Congress has moved the motion after the Speaker Sitasharan Sharma refused to have a discussion under the amended rules.

The changed rules allow the state cabinet to move a confidence motion in the assembly, which will get precedence over any opposition-backed no-confidence motion. The new rules also barred the legislators from asking any questions relating to communal riots and sensitive issues confronting the state. The Speaker adjourned the House sine die a week ahead of the scheduled end of the session amid uproar after he refuseds to admit the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion. The Congress-led opposition cried foul accusing the government of deliberately trying to avoid a discussion on a serious issue.

“The Speaker did not allow discussion on the issue (amendments in the rules of procedure of the House), after which BJP changed its agenda to complete the entire business in a day before the House was adjourned sine die. I am a member of the assembly since 1985 and have never seen a budget passed without discussion. This is a black day for the state,” said Ajay Singh, the leader of the opposition the Madhya Pradesh assembly.

The Monsoon session of MP assembly began on June 25 and abruptly. With an imminent electoral defeat on sight, a rattled Bhartiya Janata Party is pursuing a dictatorial and uncalled for policy against its political rivals making all attempts to crush any discontent or rebellion whether it is on the peasants and other poor sections of the society.

One thing is common between both the chief ministers that they are not willing to provide any space for criticism and opposition and are all out to deal with it forcefully. The coming together of all anti-BJP forces has also frustrated the leaders of the ruling party as they are aware of the fact that in the absence of a split in the opposition ranks would prove fatal to the BJP’s electoral prospects.

The electoral alliance among Congress and Ajit Jogi’s party would ultimately show exit door to Raman Singh. Similarly in MP the understanding among Congress, Samajwadi party and the Bahujan Samaj Party would ultimately put an end to the fifteen years rule of the BJP as the BSP had got just six percent more votes in the last assembly elections. An understanding among opposition would certainly increase their vote share provided it happens.

In Chhattisgarh a hard bargaining is going on between the Congress and the Jogi’s regional outfit. An envoy of Jogi had recently met the state Congress leaders to explore the possibility of having an electoral alliance. However, the negotiation could not arrive at as Jogi wanted half of the seats in the state assembly for his party, which was not acceptable to the state Congress leadership. The Congress in Chhattisgarh has always been averse to the idea of having an alliance with Jogi, but they were persuaded by the high command that wants the state party to accommodate Jogi to avert split in the opposition ranks. The Congress is also holding talks with BSP in case attempts to take Jogi on board fail. The BSP has a 4 percent vote share in Chhattisgarh and coming together of Congress and BSP could easily upset BJP’s apple cart.

While keeping these calculations in mind the Congress top brass have already initiated negotiations with prospective allies. In Madhya Pradesh newly appointed Congress state president Kamal Nath is holding parleys with BSP leaders to forge an alliance in the 230-member state assembly.

“We hope to put up a united opposition front in MP. We are working on a seat-sharing arrangement with the BSP. In case it does not work out for some reasons, the Congress could look at a tacit understanding on seats where the parties do not field candidates where other is strong. There are 34 seats reserved for scheduled castes in MP, which explains why the Congress hopes to benefit from a tie-up with BSP, which champions the cause of scheduled castes, “said Nath.

In Chhattisgarh, the BJP and Congress had registered a 0.7 percent difference in vote share during the last assembly elections in 2013. In case Ajit Jogi’s tribal party comes on board with the Congress this small gap of vote could easily be made up thus giving a tough time to BJP. The former chief minister Ajit Jogi had been a former Congressman and also became Congress chief minister of the state that was carved out of MP in 2000 along with two other states of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand.

If we have a tie-up with these parties, it would be very smooth election for Congress,” said P L Puniya, the Congress general secretary in charge of Chhattisgarh. The Congress leaders led by Punia have already initiated talks with Jogi’s party and BSP. The party is sending signals of stitching up a united front. The Congress president Rahul Gandhi had recently shared dais with Heera Singh Markam, a prominent leader of GGP.

The congress party has effected major changes in its leadership in Madhya Pradesh for striking a balance among different factions of the party in the state. Kamal Nath was made state party president and young Jyotiraditya Scindhia was given charge of heading the campaign for the ensuing assembly elections in the state. The former MP chief minister Digvijay Singh has also been assigned with some important responsibility so as to keep him busy.

The Congress Party is treading cautiously to make all efforts to avoid a split in the opposition votes. Thus, the party is insisting on having a pre-poll alliance with like-minded in the states.

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