Chandigarh, June 10
Taking a leaf out of Congress’ success story in Karnataka, faction-ridden BJP in Madhya Pradesh is going all out to woo the electorate using the oldest methodology in electoral politics—offering ‘freebies’ to voters—even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s views on ‘revdis’ are well-known.
Attacking the promise of free goods or facilities by political parties ahead of elections, Modi had termed the practice “revdi culture”. Interestingly, it was while doing the ‘griha pravesh’ ceremony for beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district in October 2022, Modi had noted that a large section of society has resolved to free the country of the ‘revdi’ (freebies) culture.
“Thousands of taxpayers write to me and I am happy that a major section of the country is gearing up to free the country of the ‘revdi’ culture,” he was quoted as saying.
It is raining goodies in MP
In fact, the ruling BJP and the rival Congress are going all out to woo women voters in the poll-bound state.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is today transferring Rs 1,000 to the accounts of women under the ‘Ladli Behna Yojana’, his ambitious scheme ahead of the Assembly elections.
According to reports, the registration of 1.25 crore women has been found valid and the state is verifying accounts of some other beneficiaries. Officials have been directed to get feedback on the scheme under which the state government will be spending Rs 12,500 crore per year.
The Congress too has promised Rs 1,500 per month to women along with an LPG cylinder for Rs 500 if it comes to power.
Women account for around 48 per cent of the MP’s electorate.
According to reports, Chouhan will also transfer Rs 2,000 into the bank accounts of 80 lakh farmers in a biannual instalment as part of the CM Kisan Kalyan Yojana. This will be in addition to three instalments of Rs 2,000 each given by the Centre under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.
In Karnataka freebies announced by the Congress ahead of the elections, especially for women, are believed to have played a major role in the party’s victory.
The Congress has also promised 100 units of free electricity and half the rate for up to 200 units—freebies that have put the BJP strategists under more pressure apart from threats due to factionalism and other intra-party issues.
Factionalism and other issues
Reports suggest “lack of coordination” between Chouhan and BJP’s state unit president VD Sharma apart from a tug of war for power between the CM and other senior leaders of the state—Narendra Singh Tomar, Pralhad Patel, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Jyotiraditya Scindia. In comparison to the Congress’ intra-party woes are relatively lesser, limited to Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh, say observers.
Sources say the issues regarding a demotivated cadre and disconnect between the party and government have also been communicated to the central leadership by some state leaders.
“The defeat in Karnataka has set alarm bells ringing in the Madhya Pradesh’ BJP. State leaders have urged the BJP’s central leadership and also the Sangh to intervene and put the house in order. The party cannot afford to lose Madhya Pradesh, one of the ‘garhs’ of BJP’s ideological fountainhead RSS. The party has decided to intensify outreach along with pro-people policies,” they explain.
This is not all as there is also a big worry among the BJP leaders in Scindia’s region of influence over ticket distribution.
Chouhan—the BJP CM
Chouhan has been in control of the state since 2005 barring the period following the last Assembly elections when Congress’ Kamal Nath took over for a few months before being toppled by Scindia and his MLAs.
While Chouhan has a good grip on the state, observers say the people as well as BJP cadres now want a change.
Compared to Chouhan, Sharma is a relative newcomer and has his own style of functioning, which has often led to a situation putting BJP’s two most important leaders in the state at “loggerheads”.
For long there has been the buzz around changes in party organisation in states, including in Madhya Pradesh. Sources say the senior leadership is “well aware of the issues” and has held meetings to resolve them.
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