The by-elections scheduled in February, 2018 in Mungaoli and Kolaras Assembly constituencies would prove as a litmus test for both the ruling BJP and the Congress, as the Assembly elections are scheduled in Madhya Pradesh only in November this year.
The outcome of the upcoming by-elections to Mungaoli and Kolaras Assembly seats will give a strong message to political circles even as it would decide the fate of the ruling BJP and the factionalism within the Congress party.
Since, both the constituencies are parts of Guna Parliamentary constituency, which is represented by Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, the Congress leader is on the ground with full might and leading the fight. The by-polls have not been declared, but Sc india has started camping in the region and sending his dedicated supporters from different parts of the State for working in the field garnering favour for the Congress.
Why Madhya Pradesh is Crucial
There are four reasons as to why the verdict from central India is pivotal to Narendra Modi’s hopes for a second term as prime minister.
- The battle in MP will test the BJP’s ability to fight anti-incumbency under a leader whose personal popularity is still intact, despite allegations of corruption, shoddy delivery and a poor record of development.
- The MP election has become a pilot project of the battle for the Hindu mind. For the first time, the Congress is trying to challenge the BJP on its own turf by playing the Hindu card, blatantly and aggressively.
- Key issues agitating voters in MP have national resonance. One is the upper caste and OBC backlash against the recently amended SC/ST Act which overturned a Supreme Court ruling and restored the Act’s stringent provisions on summary arrest and non-bailable charges. The other is rural distress arising out of the deepening crisis in the farm sector.
- This is the Congress party’s last chance at bouncing back as a contender in national politics. Having conceded virtually every state it ruled to the BJP since 2014, the grand old party is perilously close to political extinction. A victory in MP at the cost of the BJP which has held the state for 15 years, will change the dynamics for 2019 by giving Rahul Gandhi a much-needed shot in the arm to prove that he is not the “pappu” he is made out to be.
Game Changer for Congress
MP is fertile ground for the Congress and a victory here will spread ripples through neighbouring UP where the BJP is on a slippery slope because of popular unrest on similar issues, and chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s poor governance.
However, the Congress party’s election record over the past four years has been so pathetic that there are serious doubts about its last mile coverage.
Recent opinion polls have however given the Congress the edge. If it performs as is being predicted, the MP verdict could be the game changer the Congress has been desperately seeking. If it falls, as it has in past elections, it will reaffirm the image of Rahul Gandhi as a loser. All his strategies – the Hindu card, the outreach to upper castes, wooing farmers – will have flopped. If this be the case, the BJP and Modi can breathe more easily in the run up to 2019.