Madhya Pradesh BJP president Vishnu Dutt Sharma has claimed his party will all the 28 assembly seats going to the bypolls on November 3 on the back of development works done by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's government in the past seven months.
Sharma said Chouhan has done a good job of handling the COVID-19 outbreak in the state besides other challenges like the recent floods that ravaged parts of Madhya Pradesh.
He said the BJP's poll campaign will revolve around development works done under Chouhan, who assumed office around seven months ago, as against the 15 months of the Congress rule.
He said traditional Congress voters like SCs/STs/OBCs and Muslims have shifted to the BJP and the presence of the Mayawati-led BSP in the bypoll arena will not impact the poll prospects of the ruling party.
The state BJP chief said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been steadfastly implementing visions of Dr B R Ambedkar and Bharatiya Jan Sangh leader Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay by launching a slew of welfare schemes.
If there is anyone who has taken care of the thoughts of Babasaheb Ambedkar like his concern for the poor, downtrodden and deprived sections of the society in the entire country, then it is the government of Prime Minister Modi.
"The Modi government has implemented schemes like Ujjwala (providing free LPG connections to poor households), Swamitva (issuing property cards) and PM Awas Yojana," Sharma told PTI in an interview here.
"Pucca houses for eight crore homeless persons have been built and LPG connections under Ujjwala provided to three crore households which gave women the right to live with dignity as dreamed by Ambedkar and Pandit Upadhyay," he said.
Because of these welfare schemes, a sizable chunk of traditional votes of the Congress and even the BSP have now moved towards the BJP at the state levels, Sharma said.
"The Congress, during its over 50 years of rule in the country, treated SCs/STs/Muslims as their vote banks and did not do anything for their welfare.
Even the Panchteerth project (developing five places closely associated with Ambedkar) was undertaken by the Modi government, the BJP leader said.
Citing an example of the BJP getting support of various communities, especially SCs, earlier seen as Congress voters, Sharma said in the Rewa division, the saffron outfit got 24 of the total 30 seats in the 2018 assembly polls.
In the Gwalior-Chambal division also, support for the Congress and the BSP among their traditional voters is waning because of implementation of welfare and development schemes in favour of these sections by the Modi government, he said.
The Congress and the BSP have fielded candidates in 27 out of the 28 bypoll-bound seats, majority of which fall in the Gwalior-Chambal region.
In the 2018 assembly elections, the BSP had won two seats in the state.
As many as 25 of these assembly seats fell vacant when their sitting Congress MLAs resigned to join the BJP.
"Entry of (former Union minister) Jyotiraditya Scindia in the BJP has increased our strength. Even party workers have realised this and they are working to ensure victory of the party in all the 28 seats, Sharma added.
Revolt by a section of the Congress MLAs led to the collapse of the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government and brought the BJP to power.
Asked about Congress allegation that the BJP has forced these bypolls on the people of MP by using "power of notes" (cash), Sharma said there was no truth in this charge.
This is not true as the Congress government fell because it neglected development of the state and did not fulfil promises made to the people," the BJP leader said.
The Congress government was run by senior party leader Digvijaya Singh and not by chief minister Kamal Nath, who was only concerned about his constituency Chhindwara and not the entire state, Sharma said.
Whenever ministers, MLAs went to meet Nath for any work, he used to tell them to 'go away' as he had time only for businessmen," he said.
When Scindia, then in the Congress, raised the issue of regularising guest teachers as promised by the party, Nath asked him (Scindia) to hit the streets, Sharma said.
Most of the Congress MLAs who resigned in March to join the BJP were Scindia loyalists.
"The way the BJP government under Chouhan has handled the COVID-19 situation and recent floods is commendable. It has launched several schemes for development of the state in the last five to six months. This was in sharp contrast to the 15-month rule of the Congress," Sharma said.
"So, people will definitely reject the Congress in the bypolls as they dont want the rule of Nath-(Digvijaya) Singh combine to come back under any circumstances, he said.
People know how Chouhan has tackled the COVID-19 situation after assuming office and have seen him visiting areas affected by floods in boats to ensure people get relief, Sharma said.
Asked about long-time BJP workers getting ignored and Scindia supporters getting tickets for the bypolls, Sharma said, Scindia has a BJP background. His grandmother Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia had nurtured the Jan Sangh and the BJP. His father the late Madhavrao Scindia had started his political innings as an MP of the Jan Sangh.
After watching state of affairs in the Congress and having concern for development of the people and the state, he (Scindia) decided to join the BJP," he said.