Bhopal: Both national outfits, the BJP and the Congress, which strongly dominate the politics of Madhya Pradesh, are ready to face off again in the poll battle due at the end of this year.
Keeping their voter support intact in all six divisions of the state has always been a challenging task for both the parties in view of the caste equations, the historical background, and changing needs of the people.
While the Congress ruled the state from 1950 to 1977, the right wing, which has a strong base in the state, came to power in 1977 through the Bharatiya Jan Sangh government, and its successor, the BJP from 1990 to 1993.
While the Congress came to power in 1993 and held on till 2003, the BJP came back to power in 2003 and held it since, except for 15 months after the 2018 polls when Congress won more seats.
Now, both sides are putting all efforts to retain or wrest power. If the Congress has a strong presence due to dynastic politics, the strong base of RSS has been the main force behind establishing the BJP.
Divided into six divisions (region and geography wise), the state has political stalwarts such as Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Kantilal Bhuria, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rajendra Shukla, and Narendra Singh Tomar, who have a strong influence in their respective regions and castes.
For Madhya Pradesh, it is said that the chair in Bhopal belongs to the person of the party who wins Malwa-Nimar (Indore-Ujjain division), the biggest of the sprawling state’s six geographical divisions. Notably, Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ crossed through the area.
Gandhi addressed his first public rally for the coming elections on Saturday in Shajapur district, which falls under Malwa region.
The region, which has two big cities – Indore and Ujjain, has a total of 66 seats, of which, the Congress bagged 35 in 2018 (11 out of 29 seats in Ujjain division, and 24 out of 37 in Indore division).
In the Vindhya region, the BJP won 24 out of 30 seats in 2018. However, the Congress has managed to create sentiments against the BJP due to lack of participation in the government and is likely giving close competition to the BJP in the region.
In the Gwalior-Chambal region, the bastion of Union Ministers – Scindia and Tomar, the Congress won 27 out of 34 Assembly seats in 2018. Scindia was with Congress then. However, he and his 22 loyalist MLAs defected to the BJP in March 2020, toppling the Kamal Nath-led Congress government.
Similarly, in the Mahakaushal region, the Congress’ performance was outstanding, securing 24 out of the total 38 seats in 2018. The region comprises Jabalpur and Chhindwara, which is the bastion of former Chief Minister and state Congress president Kamal Nath.
The Mahakaushal region has as many as 15 Scheduled Tribe reserve seats across its eight districts. The Congress bagged 13 of them, while the BJP won the remaining two seats in the 2018 polls. This is the reason why Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi kickstarted the party’s poll campaign from Jabalpur, while two days before Chief MinisterChouhan released the first instalment of the ‘Ladli Behna Yojana’ from there.
Bhopal division, which includes Raisen, Vidisha and Sehore – home district of Chief Minister Chouhan, has 25 assembly seats, 17 of them are with the BJP while eight are with the Congress, including three in Bhopal district. Similarly, Hoshangabad, which was renamed Narmadapuram last year, has a total of 11 assembly seats, and the ruling BJP bagged seven of them.