Contrasting moods, contrasting campaigns

BHOPAL, APRIL 24. The mood of the Bharatiya Janata Party workers in Madhya Pradesh is upbeat and they can be seen working with absolute determination in one constituency after another to ensure success of their candidates just as they had done in the run up to the Assembly elections last year.

After winning a two-thirds majority in the Assembly recently and succeeding in reducing the Congress Legislature Party to 38 in a House of 230, the Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP has now set sights on all the 29 Lok Sabha seats. The State unit BJP leaders have even defined their target for the upcoming elections by publicly announcing that the present round of elections for them is being treated as "Mission-29''.

The campaign for the Assembly elections was backed to the hilt by the young cadres of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). It was not difficult for those at the helm of BJYM to convince the new members of the youth wing about the pitfalls of any complacency on their part when it came to campaigning.

The massive mandate came as a big morale booster for the cadres, especially the youngsters who come from every social strata. It is this young brigade that has fanned out across the State now and is working over-time for the success of their candidates. A BJP poll manager told this correspondent that the incentive for his party cadres this time is the strong wave in favour of the BJP and the chances of the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, returning to power for yet another term, a propsect that has also been reflected by many pre-poll surveys. The BJP workers have also been galvanised and sufficiently motivated by the "logic'' that the there would be speedy development and more job avenues would open up for them if the same party rules both at the Centre as well as in the State, he added.

In sharp contrast, the Congress party appears to be in disarray in Madhya Pradesh. While BJP's campaign across most constituencies in the State has already picked up, a section of Congress workers here have been heard asking why senior Congress leaders like Digvijay Singh, Arjun Singh, Subhash Yadav, Jamuna Devi, Ajay Singh and Hajarilal Raghuvanshi have not joined the electoral race. Many of these leaders, who have been elected as MLAs, could have given a stiff fight to the BJP, they point out asserting that the Congress party would have eventually gained even if its strength would have reduced further in Assembly. Meanwhile, the MPCC leaders are busy requesting Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra to agree to campaign in the State. The Congress spokesman, Pratap Bhanu Sharma, informed newsmen that a formal announcement regarding election meetings to be addressed by the AICC president, Sonia Gandhi besides Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra would be made after getting confirmation from the headquarters.

Rather than countering BJP's campaign at the grass-root level, most of the Congress onslaught against the BJP in Madhya Pradesh has been only through the media. At a press conference, a few days ago, the MPCC president, Subhash Yadav, had targeted the Prime Minister by questioning his role during the freedom struggle. Mr. Vajpayee was again the target of the Congress spokesman today who asked how Mr. Vajpayee could afford to remain a mute spectator when Gujarat had been hit by communal riots. The Prime Minister owes an explanation to the people on this count, he said.

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