Unaffected By Lok Sabha Election Results, Madhya Pradesh BJP Continues To Rely On Defector Congress MLAs

Nishtha Anushree

Jul 10, 2024, 02:13 PM | Updated 05:00 PM IST

Madhya Pradesh BJP is comfortable with Congress defectors
Madhya Pradesh BJP is comfortable with Congress defectors
  • Amarwara by-polls is the latest example of BJP fielding a Congress defector as it is the party's tried and tested formula.
  • While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is changing its strategy in the Hindi-speaking states after losses in the Lok Sabha elections, Madhya Pradesh (MP) seems to be unaffected by the events of 4 June.

    This is because it feels no need for any change as the party won all 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state, months after a thumping majority in the 2023 Assembly elections with the second-highest-ever seat tally.

    While the BJP's losses in many states, especially Uttar Pradesh, are being attributed to the import of leaders from other parties and prioritising them over its own cadre, the party's MP unit does not seem to look upon the practice as a problem.

    The most recent example is Amarwara Assembly by-polls where the voting is happening today (10 July). Here, the BJP candidate is Kamlesh Shah, who has been winning this seat since 2013 on the Congress ticket.

    However, he joined the BJP in March this year, just ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Shah was necessary for the BJP as it wanted to breach Kamal Nath's Chhindwara bastion.

    As the BJP has won in Chhindwara Lok Sabha for the first time since 1997, its next focus is on the Assembly seats that come under this Parliamentary constituency (PC) and Amarwara is one of them.

    Notably, the BJP could not win any of the seven Assembly seats in Chhindwara PC in the 2023 elections. If Shah wins this seat for the BJP, the party may reward him with a ministerial berth in the Mohan Yadav Cabinet.

    A couple of days ago, another former Congress MLA Ramniwas Rawat took oath as MP Minister. He is a six-time Congress MLA from Sheopur's Vijaypur and joined BJP on 30 April.

    While the by-polls for Vijaypur are yet to be notified, the BJP will surely field Rawat as its candidate as he has already taken oath as a Minister and MP does not have a Legislative Council to make him a legislator otherwise.

    Similarly, another former Congress MLA Nirmala Sapre, who joined the BJP in May this year, is likely to be fielded for the Bina Assembly seat, whenever the by-polls are notified.

    Sapre had lost to BJP's Mahesh Rai in 2013 in Bina. As a result, Congress did not give her a ticket in 2018 but Rai won again. In 2023, Sapre defeated then-incumbent MLA Rai by a margin of 6,000 votes on the Congress ticket.

    Giving tickets to defector Congress MLAs is a tried and tested formula for the BJP in MP. With this strategy, it could form a government in the state in 2020 after the loss in the 2018 Assembly election.

    In the 2020 by-elections, the BJP fielded those Congress MLAs who had joined the party with Jyotiraditya Scindia. Only eight of them lost, while 18 won, giving BJP a majority in the Assembly.

    The party built upon this momentum in the 2023 Assembly elections and won 163 seats in the 230-seat Assembly. If it wins all three by-polls now, it will surpass its highest-ever tally of 165 seats, which it won in 2013.

    Meanwhile, the MP Congress is in a perpetual decline since the loss in the 2023 Assembly election. Replacing former Chief Minister Kamal Nath with Jitu Patwari as the state president has done more harm than good.

    Three Congress MLAs have already switched sides in this year and joined the BJP. Even Congress' Lok Sabha candidate in Indore, Akshay Kanti Bam joined the BJP and withdrew his election nomination on the last day.

    This led to the BJP MP Shankar Lalwani winning by a margin of 11.75 lakh votes, the highest in this Lok Sabha election. Kamal Nath's son Nakul Nath lost in Chhindwara, giving a clean sweep to the BJP.

    With no moves being made by the MP Congress, the BJP is continuing the same strategy despite a leadership change as former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a Union Cabinet Minister now.

    However, who succeeds Chouhan in the Budhni Assembly, as the seat has been vacated by his election to Lok Sabha from Vidisha, remains to be seen. Budhni too will have by-polls soon.

    Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.

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