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Yatra in Malwa: Will Rahul be able to make a dent in BJP’s forte in MP?

The constituency has been a challenge for Congress. The party had managed to make a dent in it last time to a great extent, but it could not sustain it.

Anjali Bhatia | New Delhi |

The “Bharat Jodo Yatra” of Congress is currently underway in Madhya Pradesh, a state where the BJP has historically maintained dominance. Although Congress had established its government in this BJP stronghold in 2018, Kamalnath’s administration was overthrown and the BJP regained control within 15 months.

Prior to Congress winning the last election, Digvijay Singh, the former chief minister of the state and senior party leader, participated in the Narmada Parikrama. This time around, when former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is leading the pan-India yatra, elections in the country have an entire year to go.

For Madhya Pradesh, it is said that the Bhopal chair belongs to the person who wins Malwa. While Rahul Gandhi’s yatra is going through the areas of Malwa and Nimar, the special focus is on Malwa. In view of the geographical conditions as well as the importance of Malwa in the politics of the state, maximum time of the yatra is devoted to Malwa.

Malwa has been a stronghold of the BJP for more than a decade now. The constituency has been a challenge for Congress. The party had managed to make a dent in it last time to a great extent, but it could not sustain it. In the last assembly elections, the party had won 26 out of 50 seats in Malwa. On the other hand, it won 10 out of 16 seats in Nimar.

In this tour, Rahul is trying to give a glimpse of soft Hindutva by visiting Omkareshwar and Mahakaleshwar of Ujjain. Actually, both these temples are one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. At the same time, Rahul Gandhi is also going to hold a big rally in Ujjain.

Rahul’s visit is receiving a very favourable response from the state. Additionally, it has had a favourable impact on the party as a whole. The common worker has regained his confidence at a time when which the party is experiencing factionalism, strife, and frustration, according to experts.

As regards Rahul Gandhi, his confidence level too has increased. His vitality and spirit have both risen. Only the impact of the yatra on the ground needs to be sustained by Congress. In this regard, a political analyst and a keen observer of state politics said that the success of the upcoming elections will depend largely on the momentum generated from this visit. To what extent can it be maintained, only time will tell.  But unfortunately, Congress does not have leaders to handle it.

The strong presence of the Sangh on the ground is said to be the reason behind the success of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. Both the network of the Sangh and its hold are very strong in the state. The results of Lok Sabha and Vidhansabha elections have been continuously confirming this. While in 2014, the BJP won 27 out of 29 seats in the state, in 2019, it won 28 seats.

On the other hand, Congress could not cross the halfway mark in the 2018 assembly elections. It got stuck at 114 in the 230-seat assembly even after putting in its full force. Even after 15 years of anti-incumbency, the BJP would be able to win 109 seats whereas in 2013, BJP got 165 seats and Congress got 58 seats.

If Malwa has remained the stronghold of the BJP for the last several years, it’s because of the lack of strong leadership in the Congress in this area while in the BJP, leaders like Sumitra Mahajan and Kailash Vijayvargiya continued their presence in Malwa. On the other hand, after Prakash Chandra Sethi, no strong leader emerged from the Congress.

For more than three decades, the area is yearning for strong leadership of the Congress. State politics and factionalism have played a key role in weakening the Congress. Those who keep an eye on the politics of the state believe that the internal politics and factionalism of the Congress did not allow the leadership to emerge here.