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  India   All India  15 Oct 2018  BJP bets on triangular fight, Cong eyes anti-incumbency

BJP bets on triangular fight, Cong eyes anti-incumbency

THE ASIAN AGE. | RABINDRA NATH CHOUDHURY
Published : Oct 15, 2018, 12:56 am IST
Updated : Oct 15, 2018, 12:56 am IST

The BJP has tried hard to woo lower castes at the cost of annoying its tradition supporters from upper castes.

Congress leaders Kamal Nath, Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia at an event.
 Congress leaders Kamal Nath, Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia at an event.

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh is poised for transition from bipolar to multi-polar polity in the November 28 Assembly elections, making the poll outcome on December 7 unpredictable. From the days of direct fight between the BJP and the Congress, the state is transiting to multi-cornered fights in almost all 230 constituencies.

For the first time in electoral history of Madhya Pradesh, five parties - the BJP, the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Gondvana Gantantra Party  (GGP), the Samajwadi Party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and anti-reservation oufit Samanya Pichhada Evam Alpsankhyak Varg Samaj (SAPAKS) - have joined the fray independently, with each party announcing plans to field candidates in all the 230 seats.

 

The ruling BJP, which is vying for a fourth consecutive term, seems quite optimistic of a windfall in the multi-polar contest while the Opposition Congress appears confident of returning to power in the state after a gap of 15 years by riding on the “waves of anti-incumbency”.

As different opinion poll surveys make contradictory predictions, pollsters have forecast that it may be tough for the BJP to retain power, but not at all easy for the Congress either to stage a comeback.

“The multi-polar contest may mean fights involving primarily the BJP, the Congress, the BSP and the GGP in 60-70 seats reserved for SCs and STs,” said BJP spokesman Rajnish Agrawal.

 

“Multi-cornered fight in these seats may lead to division of non-BJP votes, particularly preventing the Congress from benefiting from it.  Therefore, the BJP alone will gain from absence of a direct fight with the Congress in most of the seats,” he said.

But, the Congress  believes that the anti-incumbency  will power its return to power after 15 years.

“The anti-incumbency is too strong to divide non-BJP votes even if the coming elections witness a triangular contest in the real sense,” Congress spokesman Pankaj Chaturvedy said.

He said the fringe parties such as the AAP, the SP and the SAPAKS are hardly in a position to divide non-BJP votes due to a dearth of decent candidates.

 

The BJP claims that the sops offered by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government to farmers, students, tribals, teachers and other government employees would counter the so-called anti-incumbency to a great extent robbing the Congress of its “only weapon” to wrest power from the saffron party.

The Congress tried hard to cobble up a grand alliance. But, the grand old party’s prospective allies, particularly the BSP, grew “over ambitious” by demanding an unreasonably high number of seats. “Had the Congress conceded the BSP’s unreasonable demand of 50 seats, it would have given a walk over to the BJP in the polls,” MP pradesh Congress committee (PCC) president Kamal Nath said. Both the BJP and the Congress have experimented with social engineering to dent each other’s vote banks.

 

The BJP has tried hard to woo lower castes at the cost of annoying its tradition supporters from upper castes.

While giving more teeth to the SC/ST Act, apparently to woo the dalits and tribals, the BJP has allegedly antagonised the upper castes. In addition to this, the BJP government’s decision to introduce reservation in promotions in government jobs has left around 4.5 lakh general category workers out of the total 6.5 lakh employees   seething in anger.

Sources said the BJP has played a gamble by wooing dalits in its bid to poach Congress supporters, particularly among the Scheduled Castes.

“Our assessment is that the anti-BJP votes among the upper castes will go to fringe parties espousing their cause instead of the Congress, in a way, negating the impact of any anti-BJP mood in some sections,” a BJP leader hoped.

 

Similarly, the Congress has shown little hesitation to use soft Hindutva, by way of temple runs by party chief Rahul Gandhi, to make inroads into BJP’s upper caste support base and shed its pro-Muslim image. Muslims comprise hardly six per cent of the population in MP and are not in a position to influence the outcome even in a single Assembly seat.

Tags: madhya pradesh, ‪bjp, congress, cm shivraj singh chouhan