Few by-elections have stakes as high as the one that Madhya Pradesh will hold next week. Twenty-eight seats will be up for contest after former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia defected to the BJP with 22 MLAs and this “betrayal” is now the crux of the election narrative for the Congress.
The elections will decide who forms the next government.
it will decide Kamal Nath’s hold on the politics in the Madhya Pradesh Congress.
It will decide Jyotiraditya Scindia’s political stature in the BJP.
And it will be a referendum on whether Shivraj Singh Chouhan did the right thing by joining hands with the Congress rebels.
“Gaddari”, as the Congress terms it, is what led to the fall of the Kamal Nath government but the BJP says it is not they but the Congress who betrayed the people of Madhya Pradesh by not fulfilling promises made in their manifesto.
Kamal Nath is the face of the Congress election campaign in Madhya Pradesh while Digvijaya Singh keeps to the background. It was the power tussle between Mr Singh and Mr Scindia that led to the latter’s exit from the party. Kamal Nath hopes voters’ sympathy will work in his favour.
“The main issue is the saude-baazi – the kind of politics that has taken place, the way people have auctioned themselves. We formed a government with votes and the BJP formed a government with notes,” Kamal Nath told NDTV.
But Jyotiraditya Scindia makes it a point to hit back at the Congress on these allegations. “It was a government of corruption, working solely on basis of money. They made Vallabh Bhavan a hub of corruption. Don’t ask me about this, you can ask people of Madhya Pradesh. There was a complete disregard of promises made to the public,” he said at an election rally on Wednesday.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan too attacked Kamal Nath for not carrying out development on with the excuse of empty coffers.
At one of the rallies on Wednesday, he said, “I’m not Kamal Nath, who won’t give a penny for development. I assure you of Anuppur’s development. Kamal Nath used to say that Mama had emptied state’s coffers but I said it’s not Aurangzeb’s treasure which can be emptied.”
But in a no-holds-barred election, repeated references to “Gaddari” or betrayals are a pointed reference to the history of the region and to the fact that of these 28 seats, 16 are in the Scindia bastion.