The bypolls to the 24 assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh are not only crucial for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, but also for the Congress, as the stakes are high for both. Efforts are being made to turn the by-elections into a battle between Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath.
The BJP government under Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been formed with the help of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who switched from the Congress to the BJP in March. The Kamal Nath government collapsed after Scindia left the Congress and joined the BJP along with 22 MLAs.
Now almost three months later, the bypolls are crucial for the survival of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government and during this entire period, Scindia, who split the Congress to bring down the Kamal Nath government, was away from the hustle and bustle of political activities in the state due to the corona pandemic.
Now 24 assembly constituencies are going to the polls, and 22 of them fell vacant due to the resignation of Scindia-supported MLAs. The BJP is fielding almost all the MLAs who had earlier won on a Congress ticket. So, the battle has now turned into Scindia vs Kamal Nath.
All the Congress leaders are now directly targeting Scindia.
Attacking Scindia without taking his name, K.K. Mishra, who was appointed media in-charge in the Gwalior-Chambal area by the Congress, tweeted, "What a joke! The word 'Srimant' is missing from the name of the person who joined the BJP on March 11. His name is at the sixth place in the list of election coordination committee of the BJP. While the word 'Srimant' is very much there against the name of a candidate from Maharashtra -- Srimanta Udayana Raje Bhonsle!! joke?"
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, meanwhile, blamed Kamal Nath for the spread of coronavirus in Indore. He said, "The corona spread in Indore only in February, people were coming from international flights, there was no test. The then chief minister did not take any action. The whole focus was on IIFA. There was a furore over the tickets, it was decided that whoever will give the cut would get the pass for the IIFA function. The preparations that should have been made to deal with the virus were not done at all."
Many Congress leaders including former chief minister Digvijaya Singh have been accusing Scindia of betraying the party, and of being over ambitious. The Congress is also taking to the masses the statement by Chouhan where he allegedly called Scindia the 'Vibhishan', a character in the epic Ramayan who betrayed his own brother for the sake of power. Not only this, the Congress has called Scindia power hungry and has accused the BJP of horse trading.
Political analyst Shiv Anurag Pateria agrees that attempts are being made to label the bypolls as 'Scindia vs Kamal Nath', saying that 16 assembly constituencies out of 24 fall in the Gwalior-Chambal area, where Scindia exercises immense influence.
"The Congress is trying to make the election Scindia vs Kamal Nath because while the rebellion in Gwalior-Chambal area is accepted by the people, cheating gets a rebuke, a unique character of the area. Due to this, the Congress is trying to create an atmosphere in which Scindia and his supporters can be seen as cheaters and hence it is Scindia vs Kamal Nath." he said.
Pateria added that Chief Minister Chouhan is also constantly attacking Kamal Nath to counter the theory that it was due to the support of Chouhan that Kamal Nath was able to run the government in Madhya Pradesh.