As Madhya Pradesh moves towards Assembly Elections due later in 2023, the central leadership of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been tasked with combating anti-incumbency in the state.
Talking to The Quint, journalist turned political commentator Deepak Tiwari said that the BJP MLAs in the state would need to fight more than ever to retain their seats.
"The anti-incumbency wave against the ruling party is almost always there and in the BJP's case the wave is stronger than ever because they have been in power for almost two decades now. The BJP MLAs were in trouble in the last election as well, with many senior leaders winning with narrow margins. The situation has only changed for the worse lately,"Deepak Tiwari
Internal Survey Puts 15 Ministers in Red Zone, 30-35 MLAs Might Get Dropped
An internal survey of the party put 15 of its sitting ministers in the red. It said that these ministers stand to lose their seats if the public sentiment against them remains unchanged.
The BJP is also planning to not give tickets to around 30-35 MLAs that it identified through its 'Vikas Yatra' to combat the dual challenge of countering anti-incumbency as well as projecting itself as a people-centric party.
Talking to The Quint, a party source had earlier commented that it became necessary to do a ground check and then field candidates based on the feedback from the electorate.
"We know that the opposition will try to take advantage of the public backlash throughout the 'Vikas Yatra', but it would help us identify weaker candidates, those who have lost public trust, and field better candidates,"the source had said.
Concurring with the opinion, another senior journalist said that the 'Vikas Yatra' would do more good than harm to the BJP.
"The BJP will know the names of those candidates who are going to lose around 9-10 months before elections and that would obviously be a plus point. They can change the candidates, get the central leadership to pitch in and campaign and that might just work out for them to fend off anti-incumbency like it did in Gujarat."Senior Journalist
Experts say that the BJP has drafted a multipronged approach to counter anti-incumbency and the desperation has pushed the party's central leadership to take charge right from the beginning.
Around 25-30 Visits of PM Modi and Amit Shah Slated Before Elections
According to party sources, the BJP's central leadership has taken up the challenge to manoeuvre through the anti-incumbency wave and hence around over two dozen visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are scheduled before the elections.
Shah has been to Madhya Pradesh twice already in the last two months and on his latest visit to Chhindwara – considered a Kamal Nath/Congress stronghold – announced the commencement of the party's election campaign.
As for why Chhindwara, party sources say that it has been a sore point for the BJP for quite some time now and also that targeted efforts in Chhindwara district will help dent the aspirations of Congress both in the Assembly elections and the General Elections 2024.
Chhindwara has been Congress' bastion since 1952 except for the one defeat that came at the hands of BJP’s Sunderlal Patwa in 1997.
Since 1980 the Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat has been held by either Kamal Nath or his family members.
Union minister Giriraj Singh has been tasked with ensuring BJP's win in Chhindwara with the aid of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state party chief BD Sharma.
Talking to The Quint, a senior journalist who didn't want to be named said that the BJP has invested in more than one tactic and would go full throttle as the election nears.
"Why Chhindwara? The straight answer is, to distract and engage Kamal Nath in his home district so that it becomes easier for the BJP to campaign in other parts of the state. It's a clever game but it's not enough to tackle the massive public fatigue that has accumulated over the last two decades and that is where the party is most focused on."