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Congress, BJP equally poised in MP 

Bhopal, April 29

Madhya Pradesh is set to witness a direct contest between two main protagonists in the national arena, the BJP and the Congress, in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. The entry of BJP’s controversial candidate Sadhvi Pragya Thakur Singh in Bhopal has only made the battle more intense. 

The question is whether the polarisation has added to the benefit of a rejuvenated Congress in the heart of the Hindi heartland or worked to the advantage of the BJP, which is waiting in the wings to wrest the state back after General Election, as many believe it is possible if Chief Minister Kamal Nath fails to deliver.

Observers believe it may be the best chance for the Congress to break the saffron hold on Madhya Pradesh, a state also known as the RSS bastion. 

However, not all appears to have gone down well for the just formed government of Kamal Nath. Already there are murmurs in the powerful farming community regarding wheat procurement procedure and prices in the rabi season and the promise of farm loan waivers in Assembly elections, all of which the Opposition BJP in the state is making the most of.

But despite all this, it is as good as it can get for the Congress under its seasoned politician Kamal Nath, nine-time MP from Chhindwara, who in these elections has passed the constituency to son Nakul.

Kamal Nath may not be “people’s type of a chief minister” like BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan, but he has the reputation of an efficient administrator. What is also working to his benefit this time is a certain synergy with political rivals like Digvijaya Singh.

Add to it the absence of any “wave” on the ground this time (though some insist an undercurrent exists) and Madhya Pradesh becomes a good example of battle of equals, more than any other state in the country.

Interestingly, despite all these advantages, observers are giving the BJP a better chance, pegging the Congress’ figures in the range of “nine to 10” of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state. In other words, the probability of the BJP touching the figure of 20 (plus/minus two) is more.

Also, the chances of Congress sweeping the state like the BJP had in 2014 are lesser. In the last elections, the BJP had won all but two of the 29 Lok Sabha seats. Later, the Congress won Ratlam in 2015 byelections. 

The reason of tilt in favour of the BJP is vote share in the recent Assembly polls. Despite losing, and to an extent because of spoilsport played by some of its own leaders, the BJP polled better percentage of votes-41%, as against Congress’ 40.9%.

But much has also changed here since 2014, which the BJP rode on the “Modi wave” and popularity of “jagat mama” Shivraj Singh Chouhan, its three-time popular chief minister, getting a boost. 

An “able administrator and manager of funds”, Nath may not be backed by strength of cadres like the saffron party is, but his party is better placed in MP than anywhere else in the country 

Madhya Pradesh has always given the BJP and the Congress some of their top leaders. If the BJP had Vijyaaraje Scindia, Sundarlal Patwa in the past and Uma Bharti and Chouhan now, the Congress had Shyama Charan Shukla, Vidya Charan Shukla, Madhavrao Scindia and Arjun Singh and now Digvijaya Singh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

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