Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), An anti-incumbency mood is palpable in the central Indian state and also in Gwalior region – considered a key political hub – in Madhya Pradesh.Local citizens say the rising cost of essential commodities and fuel remains major issues for the Congress to slam the BJP, which is ruling the state of Madhya Pradesh for last 15 years.
Some say farmers, who make up over 60 per cent of the local population in the region, have been on the warpath due to their anger at policies of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan ministry and also the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime in the centre.
“We farmers are unhappy, there is not enough marketing scope for selling agricultural products. As a result often the farmers have lowered the prices of their agricultural produce. This section will not vote for BJP,” says Surinder Thakur, 48.
Local farmers also accuse the BJP government of backpedaling after promising earlier to help ease their loan debts. “The 15-year anti incumbency is strong and hence this is time to vote out BJP,” says 26-year-old Ramesh Kumar – describing himself ‘a job aspirant’.
Endorsing him, a local Congress worker Devender Pratap says: ” Younger generation is angry and restive in Madhya Pradesh. Youths, who formed the BJP’s core voters in the 2014 national elections and 2013 state assembly polls, have moved towards us”.
In this context, he says, winning state elections in Madhya Pradesh and also in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh would lay a “foundation” to the ouster of Narendra Modi from the helm of affairs in Delhi next year.However, some citizens and also BJP workers say most of the Congress enthusiasm is “misplaced”.
The Congress workers “should not be overconfident”, says educationist Prahlad Acharya adding “even in the past, the Congress party has spoiled their prospects due to over confidence and infighting”.
“In most places, we get an impression that the Congress wants BJP to commit mistakes and then lose. This is not the signs of a fighting fit opposition party,” Mr Acharya told agencies.
Moreover, the BJP workers say the ‘infighting’ in the Congress rank and file work to the advantage of the BJP and to an extent even the third front parties like the BSP and Samajwadi Party.
“The infighting between Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath and other leaders will add to our advantage,” says BJP worker Paritosh Mahajan, associated with the saffron party through his RSS network.
In fact, Mr Mahajan and other BJP workers in Gwalior mock at the ‘negative politics’ of the Congress. “Congress party knows their own limitation. Their leaders and their children are gradually extending support to third front parties. Nitin Chaturvedi, son of senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi, has shifted to Samajwadi. You know the reason,” says Digambar Sharma, another BJP worker in Gwalior South assembly segment.
The constituency of Gwalior South is a strong BJP bastion with the saffron party having won it in 2008 and 2013.
“They know the BJP support base is so strong. Knowing well that our traditional supporters will never move towards Congress, now they are urging voters including the upper castes to opt for NOTA. This is not positive politics,” says Sharma, also a cricket lover – using a cricketing phrase.
The analysts for the BJP say such negativity of asking voters to opt for NOTA shows that the Congress does not have the ‘confidence’ of urging the electorate to vote for them.
But the Congress leaders remain firm in their optimism. The foot soldiers say after long time, the party’s rank and file in Madhya Pradesh are showing ‘unity’ of purpose.
“There is an euphoria first to vote out Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and subsequently Narendra Modi in Delhi. We are confident of turning our euphoria into votes,” says Congress worker Uttam Yadav.
The Congress leaders in Gwalior also speak highly of the party manifesto released on Saturday by senior party leader Kamal Nath and say the ‘promises’ are realistic and most of them will be fulfilled.
“Our enthusiasm is not without good reason. There are solid plans. It is in this context, Congress has fielded former MP and former Union Minister Arun Yadav against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and we are determined to win the seat,” says Mr Yadav.