With 16 of the 28 vacant Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh situated in the Gwalior-Chambal belt -- seen as the stronghold of BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia -- Gwalior is gaining centre stage in the state politics ahead of the bypolls in these segments.
Victory or loss on these seats hold importance for both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, which are aiming to consolidate their respective hold over the state politics.
While the ruling BJP undertook a drive to increase party membership in the Gwalior-Chambal area in recent times, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state BJP chief Vishnu Datt Sharma, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Scindia, and former Chief Minister Uma Bharti toured the Assembly segments. Sharma and Tomar held meetings with prominent party workers in the area.
On the other hand, the Congress too was not sitting idle. It fiercely opposed the BJP's membership drive in the area, in which former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh too participated. Now, senior Congress leader and former CM Kamal Nath too is sojourning in Gwalior for two days.
Increased political activities in Gwalior have since led to heightened tension between the supporters of the two parties. In recent times, both sides came close to scuffles over putting up posters in the area. State Minister Pradyuman Singh Tomar allegedly had a scuffle with Congress supporters a day ago.
Former Minister and Congress leader Lakhan Singh Yadav accused the BJP of high-handedness and said that Kamal Nath's tour of Gwalior was important in view of the coming bypolls.
The BJP seems to be aggressive over the visit of Kamal Nath, asking him to tell the people of the area what all he did for them during the Congress rule for 15 months.
State BJP chief Sharma alleged that Kamal Nath had only back-stabbed the people of the Gwalior-Chambal area during his chief ministership and did not take up any developmental work.
Political observers feel that the results of the by-elections in the area hold immense political significance as a win for the Congress will eclipse the political future of Scindia whereas a BJP victory will make it difficult for the Congress to strengthen itself in the area on its own for a long time.