New Delhi, September 29
The game of nerves has begun in election bound Madhya Pradesh, where the ruling BJP and the Congress are pitted in a direct contest with saffron forces facing an 18-year anti-incumbency.
The BJP has made the first move, eyeing early starter advantage, by awarding tickets in 79 Assembly segments of which it had won only three in the 2018 elections. These are Maihar, Sidhi and Narsinghpur. The Congress had bagged the remaining 76.
“The idea is to score on the psychological scale and gain early advantage,” a BJP strategist said, adding that the party had pipped the Congress in ticket declaration.
The Congress had earlier said it would unveil its first list of candidates by September 10. The BJP named 39 candidates in the first list on August 18 and the rest by September 25. “The toughest seats have been sorted out. Early declaration will help address rebel factor, if any, in time. The remaining seats are the ones where the party is comfortably placed,” said a BJP source.
About top guns — seven sitting Lok Sabha MPs, including three Union Ministers —being in the fray, sources say the strategy aims to woo all sections of voters.
The presence of Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar, MoS Prahlad Patel, MoS Faggan Singh Kulaste and BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya in the poll fray will mobilise the communities these leaders represent — Rajputs, OBCs, tribals and Baniyas, respectively.
“Everyone will have a sense of participation. This will energise cadres and fight anti-incumbency to some extent,” BJP leaders said.
On several central leaders’ candidature signalling a weakening of position for incumbent CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, sources said that did not appear to be the case.
“Chouhan remains the best available option. There is brand fatigue associated with Chouhan but he also has the capacity to rebrand himself,” a source said.
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