Bhopal: The stage is being set for yet another high-stake contest between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress in Madhya Pradesh as the states go to polls later this year.
Although, the saffron party had lost the 2018 last elections, and the Congress led by veteran leader Kamal Nath managed to come back to power after 15 years in the state, shifting of 22 MLAs to the BJP (in support of Jyotiraditya Scindia) had brought the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government back into power again in March 2020.
The switching of loyalties continued with four more MLAs – Praduman Singh Lodhi, Sumitra Devi, Narayan Singh Patel and Rahul Singh Lodhi – severing their ties with the grand-old party in July and October 2020.
Subsequently, the bypolls for 28 Assembly seats were held in November 2020, wherein the BJP managed to win 19 getting a comfortable majority in the House, which has a strength of total 230 legislators.
Seven of the 22 Congress MLAs (Scindia loyalists), who had changed sides, had lost the bypolls to the Congress. They were – Imarti Devi, Raghuraj Singh Kasana, Girriraj Dandotiya, Adal Singh Kasana, Ranvir Jatav, Munnalal Goyal and Jasmant Jatav.
In July 2020, of the 28 cabinet ministers who took oath in CM Chouhan’s cabinet, 12 were Scindia loyalists. They included – Tulsi Silawat, Govind Singh Rajput, Mahendra Singh Sisodia, Prabhuram Chaudhary, Pradumn Singh Tomar, Bisahulal Singh, Hardeep Singh Dang, Rajvardhan Singh, O.P.S. Bhadoria, Brijendra Singh Yadav etc.
Now, with the Assembly elections inching closer, faced with huge anti-incumbency for nearly two-decade rule of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the BJP leadership reportedly struggling to defuse the rift among old vs new party cadre in those respective constituencies when the elections are almost at the door.
Notably, in the past, the performance reports of majority ministers in CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s cabinet were very poor and they have been directed to work hard. According to the sources in the state BJP, work reports of most Scindia loyalists ministers were found poor, and the reason was that they were not giving heed to the state leadership.
Besides, a question has always remained in state’s political gallery that whether the BJP will give tickets to Scindia loyalists – who won bypolls and those are cabinet ministers? Speculations are rife that Scindia loyalists are relentlessly building pressure on state BJP leadership for tickets in upcoming Assembly polls. However, the top leaders would duck this question saying the decision would be taken by the Central leadership.
Notably, from March 2020, the BJP has to accept all demands made by Scindia, be it inducting his loyalists in cabinet ministers, state ministers, or appointing in different organisations and institutions.
However, the situation seems quite different now and the political future of most Scindia loyalists seems to be at stake, as the BJP leadership claimed the ticket will be given on the basis of surveys and winning possibilities only.
A senior BJP functionary (organisation) told IANS that the message has already been conveyed. “BJP is not like other political parties where pressure tactics work. Here, the roles are fixed and decisions are taken only on the basis of performance. That was a deal for a particular duration,” the functionary said on condition of anonymity.