New Delhi, November 15
Shrillness marked the closure of election campaigns in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh on Wednesday with leaders firing salvos at one another in the final bid to woo the electorate.
Madhya Pradesh (single phase for all 230 seats) and Chhattisgarh (second phase for 70 of the 90 Assembly seats) will vote on November 17 to decide the fate of top guns — MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel, contesting from Budhni and Patan, respectively; Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Prahlad Patel and Faggan Kulaste in the fray from Dimani, Narsingpur and Niwas in MP, respectively; BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya contesting from Indore 1 and Chhattisgarh Deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo from Ambikapur in Sarguja which the Congress had swept in 2018, alongside the Bastar belt, dealing the BJP a blow.
Addressing a rally in MP’s Datia today, Congress star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi Vadra launched a blistering attack on former colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia calling him a “renegade”. “He is short in height but big in ego... he diligently followed the tradition of his family by betraying the people of Gwalior and Chambal and stabbing you in the back by dislodging a duly elected Congress government,” Vadra said.
She also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that “the PM only keeps whining”.
Her tirade followed PM’s Tuesday jibes at Vadra’s brother Rahul Gandhi, who he called a “leader of fools” while on a campaign in MP.
On the final day of canvassing today, BJP chief JP Nadda returned fire to the Congress, saying: “Congress leaders turn Ram Bhakts every time a poll approaches. They are seasonal Hindus.”
Dissonance apart, elections in both states would be keenly watched for the non-Congress, and non-BJP players in the field. In a close fight, these outfits can make all the difference. In MP, three constituents of the INDIA bloc are contesting separately from the Congress, the big brother in the group. The Samajwadi Party has fielded 71 candidates, AAP 66 and the JD(U) 10. The Mayawati-led BSP has the maximum candidates (183) in the fray in MP after the BJP and Congress.
In the 2018 elections, when the Congress and BJP finished at 114 and 107 seats, respectively, out of 230, the former formed the government with the SP and BSP support.
The elections will also test people’s choices with sops and freebies for farmers and women dominating the poll rhetoric in both states.
The Congress hopes to benefit greatly from pro-farmer promises in both states (farm loan waiver and higher MSPs) and its pledge of a caste census if elected.
The BJP is hoping to gain from the Ladli Behna scheme, the first-ever direct cash benefit scheme covering the underprivileged married, divorced and widowed women. CM Chouhan has promised to expand this scheme to unmarried girls aged 21 plus if voted to power.
While the Congress is defending its term in Chhattisgarh, the BJP, facing an 18-year anti-incumbency in MP, is hoping to buck the fatigue factor in the key cow belt state.
MP: Polling for all 230 seats
2,553 candidates in fray
2,049 polling booths
CHHATTISGARH: 2nd phase for 70 seats
958 candidates in fray
18,833 polling booths
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