Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): It's chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan vs state Congress president Kamal Nath once again in the electoral arena. Fourth time in a row, since 2018 state assembly elections with the former having the last laugh in the last three encounters, including the current civic bodies polls.
Kamal Nath had an upper hand in 2018 legislative assembly, though the Congress under his leadership couldn't get a majority in the House and he had to form the government with support from independents, SP and BSP MLAs.
Chouhan turned the table the very next year when in 2019, the BJP won 28 out 29 Lok Sabha seats in general elections. Kamal Nath government lasted for merely 15 months given conflicts within the government and the party over style of functioning. BJP formed its government in March 2020.
In less than two years, they have faced each other again as chief campaigners of their respective parties in by-polls to 28 legislative assembly seats. The BJP won 19 of the seats.
The present panchayat polls and civic bodies polls are considered as a semi-final ahead of 2023 legislative assembly elections. The results of the second phase of the civic bodies polls are to be declared on July 20.
Whether the present poll results will lead to any organisational restructuring within the Congress remains to be seen, the Congress draws sense of joy from the fact that it has won three mayoral seats in comparison to none earlier.
A senior Congress leader said, "Problem with the Congress is lack of hard work and lack of concerted efforts in reaching out to voters. Statistics itself suggests where did Nath stand vis-à-vis Chouhan in election campaign.”
Nath addressed almost half the election meetings Chouhan addressed across the state."
Another Congress leader said, "It all appeared right from day one if it's only Kamal Nath's show. There was no united face of the party. Several senior leaders of the party joined the election campaign unwillingly just for the sake of their presence."
However, a BJP leader said, "We may be celebrating the victory. The party's defeat in Gwalior after more than 50 years and in Jabalpur after 18 years can't go unnoticed. Sooner or later, the party leaders will have to do introspection as to what went wrong."