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Countdown to the 2023 Madhya Pradesh Assembly Election Strategies and Rallies


In the heartland of India, a political storm is brewing as the 2023 Assembly elections approach. The BJP and the INC, both competing fiercely for the much-coveted seat of power, have spared no efforts. In this race, regional parties like GGP and BSP have formed alliances, while AAP, mirroring its progress in Gujarat, is establishing its presence in the state.

The state witnessed a significant turn of events after the 2018 elections when the Congress managed to wrest control from the BJP. However, this victory proved short-lived, as the BJP returned to power in March 2020 after the collapse of the Congress-led government under Kamal Nath.

The BJP, faces the formidable challenge of overcoming anti-incumbency sentiments, particularly after almost four terms in power. With both parties strategizing their moves, the electoral arena is rife with anticipation and speculation. In this article, we dive into Madhya Pradesh's election campaign dynamics, exploring the key strategies employed by the BJP and the Congress.

Assembly Elections Seats (2013) Seats (2018) Seats (2022)
INC 58 114 96
BJP 165 109 127
Others 7 7 7

Source : ECI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his powerful speeches, and popularity has been charming the public and has made nine visits to the state, primarily addressing public gatherings and events. The BJP's chief strategist, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, has also been active in the state, visiting five times in seven months. In contrast, Congress' key campaigners, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has visited MP three times since launching her campaign, while Rahul Gandhi has addressed only one election rally. The Congress established 42 specialised committees led by Chief Kamal Nath for ground-level engagement, whereas the BJP conducted a 3 days outreach program to cover 65,000 booths across 12,000 locations.

Religion and Caste continue to govern the state politics, where both the parties have been at the forefront of wooing different castes by making promises and focusing on targeted campaigns. Both the Congress and BJP in Madhya Pradesh are strategically embracing religious nationalism, a move evident in their recent actions. The Congress has adopted a soft hindutva strategy. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, upon her arrival in Jabalpur for the rally, made a visit to the revered banks of the Narmada river, emphasising her party's alignment with the sentiments of the hindu community. Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has been reshaping his image from a moderate Hindutva leader to a more aggressive one. Additionally, Congress leader Kamal Nath has openly declared his devotion to Lord Hanuman, and has been highlighting the construction of a 101 feet Hanuman statue in his constituency. The BJP has highlighted its efforts in developing religious tourist circuits, notably the Mahakal Lok corridor in Ujjain and the Adi Shankaracharya statue in Omkareshwar.

The Congress leader is committed to conducting a caste census if the party comes to power, a move aimed at addressing the concerns of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), which constitute around 50% of the state's population. The Congress is also advocating for an OBC quota within women’s reservations.

Conversely, Prime Minister Modi's visits to the Sagar district highlighted the BJP's focus on the Scheduled Castes (SCs) vote bank. With SCs accounting for 17% of the state’s population and 35 reserved Assembly seats, both parties are vying for their support. To appeal to SC voters, the BJP emphasises development initiatives and the celebration of Dalit icons, as seen in the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Sant Ravidas temple. In contrast, the Congress is highlighting the issue of atrocities against Dalits in the state, aiming to consolidate their support.

In Madhya Pradesh, tribal votes significantly impact nearly 40 general seats. With 13.6% of India’s Scheduled Tribes (ST) residing in Madhya Pradesh, the state unfortunately records a staggering 23.5% of crimes against tribal people in the country. The Congress has strategically placed its confidence in three key promises focused on empowering the tribal populace.They include the implementation of the Sixth Schedule in districts where tribal population exceeds 50%, the enforcement of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 (PESA), and a significant raise in the tendu patta rate from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000 per bag. Congress has reinforced its stance by appointing Kantilal Bhuria, a respected leader from the Bhil tribe, as the head of its state election campaign committee. In contrast, the BJP, although fielding Union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste in the Niwas seat in Mandla district, where the Congress previously secured a significant victory, faces challenges.

Congress and the BJP have constantly engaged in aggressive rhetoric to sway public opinion. At a rally Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched scathing attacks at the BJP, dubbing Madhya Pradesh as the "BJP's laboratory”, raising points around farmer suicide, crime against women and corruption, whereas BJP spoke about past misrule and poor law & order.

Development Schemes and Policy Promises

Under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan's leadership, the BJP government has introduced a series of initiatives in the past six months. The BJP party is relying on the welfare schemes such as Ladli Behna to sway women voters who form 47.8% of the electorate. For agriculture labourers, the party announced a novel provident fund scheme, new crop insurance policy, Mukhyamantri Khet Sadak Yojna, besides providing land lease to slum dwellers among others and has already implemented Mukhyamantri Kisan Kalyan Yojana.

For the youth population in the state, BJP has announced a number of measures including smart phones for all government college students, providing benefits of self-employment schemes to five lakh youths and laptops for meritorious students. The BJP is also banking on schemes such as Seekho Kamao (learn and earn) for unemployed youths that offer stipends based on qualification.

On the other hand, Congress has outlined an ambitious manifesto for the upcoming elections, promising a comprehensive range of initiatives. These include complete farm loan waivers up to ₹2 lakh per farmer, revival of the old pension scheme, provision of up to 100 units of free electricity, ₹25 lakh health insurance cover for all residents, financial assistance ranging from ₹500 to ₹1500 monthly for students in classes 1 to 12, creation of 200,000 government job vacancies, subsidised LPG cylinders at ₹500, free power for farmers for irrigation, 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), ₹1500 per month for every woman, and the introduction of an Indian Premier League (IPL) team for the state.

Both the parties are equally active on the social media platforms where the BJP is highlighting its achievements, while meticulously countering the Congress's claims and highlighting the opposition's unfulfilled promises and alleged lies. In contrast, the Congress portrays the BJP as corrupt, showcasing its unmet promises and alleged wrongdoings.

With elections on the horizon, the land of Madhya Pradesh pulsates with the energy of campaigns where both political parties have meticulously deployed a variety of strategies aimed at capturing crucial voter segments. The outcome remains uncertain; who will emerge victorious and which strategies will prove pivotal only time will tell.

Sara Nasreen

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