At stake are 230 seats, and out of the 170-odd seats, for which candidates have been nominated so far, the ground is slippery in at least 50, say party insiders.
The deadline for filing nominations for the elections to Madhya Pradesh assembly is 9 November (Friday). At stake are 230 seats in the states, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are the prime contenders. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is visualising itself as a kingmaker, contesting around 50 seats in the keenly fought contest.
The BJP, which has been in power for 15 years now in the state, has so far nominated over 170 candidates and the Congress 184. Both parties are trying to finalise their candidates for the rest of the seats.
Even as the BJP is trying to finalise its candidates for the rest of the constituencies, the feedback from party insiders is of the 170-odd seats, for which candidates have been nominated so far, the ground is slippery in at least 50 seats.
A common feature of candidates selection among the political parties in Madhya Pradesh is that monetary considerations dictate who gets the party seat this time. Apart from this, the BJP is riven with nepotism, favouritism and other considerations - something that is present only to a lower extent in the Congress.
“For the Congress, a candidate’s winnability is the determining factor though monetary considerations do play a role. But in the BJP, the winnability factor has taken a back seat in some of the constituencies,” says an insider, listing out the constituencies where the ruling party could face trouble.
Caste is the prime factor in constituencies adjoining Uttar Pradesh. The outcome in districts like Satna, Panna, Chhatarpur, Singrauli and Rewa will be decided by the caste of the candidates. For example, the BJP has given the ticket for the Singrauli constituency to a sitting member of legislative assembly (MLA) Ram Lallu Bais, a protege of party national vice-president Prabhat Jha. “But for Jha, we don’t think Bais would have got the ticket since our own party cadre is against him,” says an insider.
Similarly in Satna, Shankar Lal Tiwari, a two-time winner of the BJP, has got the nomination since he is close to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan despite stiff opposition from the cadres.
In Morena, the BJP probably missed a trick or two by renominating a candidate who is close to Rustam Singh, State Public Health Minister. The candidate belongs to the Gurjar caste as also the Congress candidate. This has swung the pendulum towards the BSP candidate Balbir Singh Dandotiya, a Brahmin who personally got allegedly nominated by party chief Mayawati for monetary considerations.
The going for the BJP could be tough in constituencies like Gohad, Ater, Sumawali, Dhar, Sardarpur and Badnawar among others. In Ater for example, the BJP has fielded a candidate who has lost twice to the Congress. Still, the party has gone ahead and nominated him, making things difficult for it.
In Sumawali, the BJP has nominated a candidate who has switched his loyalty from the BSP. The fielding of the party’s candidate at Chhatarpur does not look above board, while in Guna and Kukshi the tickets have gone to persons who have switched sides from the Congress.
In Govindpura, former chief minister Babulal Gaur is not ready to give way to a new face. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh favours B D Sharma, putting the BJP in a quandary. In Nagod, the ruling party has nominated a person from the royal family, who can’t go on a door-to-door canvassing, thus handing over the Congress candidate Yadav Singh the advantage.
In areas adjoining Uttar Pradesh, the party should have been more careful in choosing its candidates but some of the selections are questionable. It needs candidates who can face the protests that have cropped up after the Centre passed ordinance on Prevention of (atrocities) on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. BSP seems to be enjoying an edge in the region, say insiders.
In some places, when candidate “X” is seen as a sure shot winner, the BJP has opted for for candidate “Y”. But not every nomination of the BJP is a problem. For example, the cadre is happy with the selection of candidates in constituencies like Maihar, Vidisha, Agar and Sironj among others.
The party needs to know that it cannot make much inroads in constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes. The Scheduled Tribes are seen favouring the Congress, which has struck an alliance with the Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti. That way, the BJP should have covered its flanks, putting up strong candidates in other constituencies that decide on caste basis, say insiders.
However, the cadre feel nominations in constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes are perfect. Besides caste, factors like the Centre passing the SC-ST ordinance and reservation are also coming into play. People aren’t aware of what the Supreme Court has said on reservation or the need for SC-ST ordinance but the BJP leaders should have restrained themselves in commenting on these issues, say insiders.
In particular, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s statement that “reservation will not be abolished and no one can change Constitution” is seen hurting the BJP’s chances among the forward castes to some extent.
In some places, the BJP is being hurt by the lack of enthusiasm among its cadres. At ward levels, workers are unhappy that they have not benefited much despite ensuring the party’s victory in the last three assembly elections.
On the other hand, though riven by factionalism, the Congress is seeing better coordination. Its workers, after being in the wilderness for 15 years now, are putting their best foot forward to try and wrest the initiative from the BJP.
If issues like the SC-ST ordinance and reservation aren’t addressed by the BJP quickly, the going could be tough for the 29 parliamentary seats too, according to insiders.