Ahead of the MP bypolls Kamal Nath is fighting a lonely battle as the focus of the Congress has shifted to Bihar where the party hopes to defeat the BJP-JD(U) combine but in Bhopal it's the former CM who is taking the fight to the BJP.
The Congress leader is in a do-or-die situation to make a comeback as Chief Minister, after the Congress government fell due to the revolt of Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Whether it is meeting people for campaigning or pacifying dissenters, or even asking people to get trained about electronic voting machines, sources close to Kamal Nath say he is working tirelessly to win the elections.
While the BJP has released names of star campaigners in the state in which both national and state leaders have found place, Congress leaders say that in bypolls national leaders do not campaign and the party is serious about Madhya Pradesh and leaders like Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh are capable of cornering and exposing the BJP.
But former two-time Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh has kept away from the campaign so far. Sources say this is a strategy so that the focus stays on the loan waiver and welfare work done by Kamal Nath and preventing the focus from shifting to individuals which may prove counterproductive.
In his speeches, Kamal Nath is saying the public knows why the election is happening and has been highlighting the work he has done during his tenure as Chief Minister.
From Ujjain to Chambal, it is Kamal Nath who has hit the campaign trail accompanied by former leader of opposition Ajay Singh Rahul, former state president Arun Yadav and former minister Jitu Patwari.
All the 28 seats on which bypolls are being held were in the Congress' kitty after the Assembly elections, but slipped out of its hands after the party MLAs resigned to support Jyotiraditya Scindia in March 2020 and walked into the BJP camp to ensure the fall of the then government led by Kamal Nath.
The Congress will need to bag all the 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh to again get a majority in the Assembly, which is a tough task. On the other hand, the ruling BJP needs only nine seats to reach the magic figure of 116. In case the Congress wins less than 28 seats but manages around 24, it will still be in the game. Otherwise, it will have to depend on Independents, two MLAs of Bahujan Samaj Party and the lone Samajwadi Party MLA.
In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the BJP has 107 MLAs, Congress 88, BSP 2, SP 1 while 4 are Independents.
"The Congress will come back to power again. We will defeat the BJP on these seats. The people will give a befitting reply to those who dishonoured the public mandate and murdered democratic values," Kamal Nath said on Thursday, during one of the meetings in the election campaign.
The tough battle lies at Chambal-Gwalior belt the stronghold of Jyotiraditya Scindia. The majority of the MLAs who resigned from the Congress belong to this region and are strong supporters of Scindia.
However, the Congress is banking on the fact that the belt has a sizeable population of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs).
The party is also hopeful of reaping the public goodwill due to waiver of farm loans announced by then Chief Minister Kamal Nath and the ongoing agitation by the farmers over the new farm laws.