Elections in Malwa, the stronghold of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the biggest region of Madhya Pradesh, are wide open this time around. So, no matter what posture the saffron party takes but the fact remains that it is not finding itself comfortable in this region during this election even as Congress sees scope for turning the tides.
“No one can predict who will win the elections this time,” said Bhanupratap Singh, a farmer from Mandasur. He said the politics in Malwa region, which is a bastion of BJP, changed drastically in the last one year, especially after Mandasur shooting incident. As many as six farmers were killed in June last year when the police fired on protesters demanding better prices in the drought-ravaged region that recorded farm suicides.
The incident not only enraged farmers in Mandasur district but it also had impact in the entire Malwa region and to some extent in Nimar region too. Since, the BJP-led government has been trying to pacify farmers of the Malwa region which comprises districts including Agar, Dewas, Dhar, Indore, Jhabua, Mandsaur, Neemuch, Rajgarh, Ratlam, Shajapur, Ujjain. Malwa region consists of total 50 assembly constituencies of which BJP won most of the seats in last two elections.
BJP had won 27 out of 50 seats in this region in 2008 elections and 45 seats in 2013 elections. In 2013 elections, BJP had won 165 out of 230 seats in the state, nearly 22 more from previous elections. As many as 18 out of the extra 22 seats were won from Malwa region. The saffron party knows that it will be an uphill task to retain all 45 seats but what’s bothering it is anti-incumbency factor apart from issues like unemployment, fuel prices, soaring crime graph, farm issues and above all SC/ST Act issue.
“Among all the regions in the state, the highest anti-incumbency is in Malwa region. However, we are hopeful of the anti-incumbency given our development works done in the region,” said a BJP functionary. He said that the people of Malwa always stood by BJP and the tradition would continue in 2018 as well. But the Congress sees things changing. “We are hopeful of winning 30 to 35 seats in Malwa region,” a senior Congress leader said. He said that their president Rahul Gandhi has also instructed to lay more focus in Malwa region.
the JAYS factor
Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti is likely to hit both BJP and Congress hard in the elections. JAYS which claims to be representative of tribals will take a major share of votes in Malwa region which has a strong base of tribes specially in Jhabua, Alirajpur and Dhar. Its presence could impact results in more than 15 seats in Malwa region.