Curtain rings down on campaigning for Madhya Pradesh electionsNovember 25th, 2008 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS
Bhopal, Nov 25 (IANS) The curtains rang down at 5 p.m. Tuesday on campaigning for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections ahead of the Nov 27 polling for 230 seats.Leaders of various parties tried their best to woo an electorate of 35,705,136. Film actors and actresses, too, were roped in to attract the masses.
Both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the main opposition - the Congress - brought their top leaders and star campaigners to lure the voters in an election, where there is neither a wave for or against any party nor do the people appear excited about issues raised by the contestants.
The BJP focussed on development, giving cheaper foodgrains, cheaper loans to farmers and welfare schemes for the girl child. The Congress harped on allegations of corruption, “unholy nexus between BJP workers and administration officials and the failure of the government” to utilise central government funds given to the state.
Then, there are Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, Uma Bharti’s Bharatiya Jan Shakti Party (BJSP) and the rebels of BJP and Congress who have made the contest triangular and multi-cornered in many constituencies.
If the state BJP leaders left no stone unturned to score a back-to-back win on the development plank, its central leaders including party president Rajnath Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament L.K. Advani and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the last three days spoke at length over the arrest of Sadhvi Pragnya for her alleged involvement in the Malegaon blasts.
They charged the Congress-led government and the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Maharashtra with humiliating spiritual figures like the Sadhvi and demeaning Army jawans for their alleged involvement in terror-related incidents. The leaders also projected the leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.
However, about a dozen senior ministers in Chouhan’s cabinet, including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s nephew Anup Mishra, Jayant Malaiya, Babulal Gaur, Narottam Mishra and Gopal Bhargava remained tethered to their constituencies.
The Congress, too, appeared jittery. Opposition leader Jamuna Devi, former state party chief Subhash Yadav, union minister Arjun Singh’s son Ajay and most former ministers stayed put in their areas.
Ajay, who heads the party’s campaign panel, is reportedly finding the going tough in pocketborough Churhat while other Congress bigwigs like Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Suresh Pachauri criss-crossed their respective regions.
If the Congress utilised the services of former Samajwadi Party leader and actor Raj Babbar who recently joined the party, the BJP fired its campaign with the star power of Hema Malini, Smriti Irani, Navjot Singh Siddhu and Shatrughan Sinha, who all praised Chouhan’s performance on all fronts - economic, social, education and infrastructure.
Issues like corruption, development - or the lack of it, erratic power and water supply and breach of other promises made by the BJP in the run-up to 2003 state polls were the main issues of the Congress.
As many as 3,179 candidates, including 1,374 independents, are trying their luck to enter the 230-member House for which both - the BJP and the Congress - have put up candidates on 228 seats. The BSP has fielded its candidates in all constituencies and the SP in 186 while the BJS is contesting 215 seats. The Left parties have put up candidates for 35 seats and the Shiv Sena for 29.
Both the Congress and the BJP are facing rebellion on almost every fourth seat. Among many, the BJP witnessed its state treasurer raising the banner of revolt against the party he had been associated with for nearly four decades. The Congress too has seen disloyalty to an extent that its spokesperson joined Uma Bharti’s to give a fight to his own party.
The sheer scale of rebellion jolted both the parties for it was unprecedented. The ruling party can draw consolation from the fact that only a few dissidents, of the 61 legislators denied tickets, filed nomination papers as rebel candidates.
The votes will be counted Dec 8.