Other States

BJP focus on M.P. bypolls along with Bihar

A total of 22 seats fell vacant with Jyotiraditya Scindia joining the Congress. File

A total of 22 seats fell vacant with Jyotiraditya Scindia joining the Congress. File   | Photo Credit: A.M. Faruqui

These 24 seats include 22 vacated by ex-Congress MLAs when Jyotiraditya Scindhia joined BJP from Congress

The BJP’s announcement that Union Home Minister Amit Shah will kick off its preparation for the Bihar Assembly polls (technically scheduled for October-November), on June 9 with a “virtual rally” has also focussed attention on Madhya Pradesh, which is due to have bypolls to 24 Assembly seats, again, technically to be held by September latest.

The 24 seats include 22 vacated by former Congress MLAs when former Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindhia joined the BJP from the Congress. Two seats fell vacant due to the death of their MLAs.

“Technically, the polls have to be held before September and looking at the prep in Bihar, you can see that we are getting ready as though polls will be held on time in both places,” said a senior source in the State.

“The Election commission’s decision to hold Rajya Sabha polls to three seats in the State on June 19 has pushed back the Cabinet expansion, which was earlier supposed to be held this week,” said the source.

The biggest problem for it, according to the BJP, has been that a majority of the seats going to bypolls are in the Gwalior area, an old stomping ground of the Scindia family. Politics in this area has been defined by where you stand with regard to the “mahal” or palace, that is, the Scindias’ traditional leadership. Despite Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia being one of the founders of the BJP, the party’s politics in the area has been largely antagonistic to the palace, specifically the Congress part of the Scindia family.

The BJP, according to sources, moved strategically when it realised that Mr Scindia wanted to join them and remove the Kamal Nath government. “From the beginning, we kept Narendra Singh Tomar (Union Agriculture Minister) and MP from the area, and Yashodhara Raje (Mr Scindia’s aunt and a former minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government), in the loop and in confidence of all the moves. This was to ensure that no one felt insecure at this very high profile and for Madhya Pradesh a paradigm shifting induction,” said the source, adding, “the BJP being a cadre based party, the leaders were brought on board without too much issue.”

The real problem, the sources said, would occur at the level of the rank and file, where cadre fights got more personal and have a history of grudges held and projected onto the political. “That is a difficult thing to pull off but in the last two months, while doing relief work for COVID-19, we have tried as much as possible to amalgamate the two teams,” said the source. Congress rebels who moved with Mr. Scindia will have to be given bypoll ticket and much heartburn was expected among the party’s old cadre and aspirants over this. “We have been talking to many of them and a message has been delivered very clearly – if you work to defeat the party, the government will fall, and Congress may return, how will that help you?” said the source, adding that for the next three months at least this would be the message the party would be hammering home.

Speaking to The Hindu, national vice president of the BJP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who is also in charge of Madhya Pradesh, said: “It’s the job of the election commission to decide the date and conduct of polls, but as a political party we are prepared to face them whenever they happen.”

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 4:04:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bjp-focus-on-mp-bypolls-along-with-bihar/article31732049.ece

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