BJP, Congress Play Caste Politics in Madhya Pradesh By-Elections

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The BJP leadership named Minister Yashodhara Scindia as the main campaigner and tried to convert the election into a fight between Yashodhara Scindia and her nephew , but that was not to be. Both Yashodhara and Jyotiraditya did not speak a word against each other. The two constituencies are part of erstwhile Gwalior where male members of Scindia family exercise a lot of influence. A report for Different Truths. 

With the electioneering over, voters of Kolaras and Mungaoli will exercise their franchise on February 24. Both BJP and Congress have campaigned for the by-elections as if in a general election.

Chief Minister Shiv Raj Singh Chauhan continuously camped in the constituencies since February 15. More than a dozen ministers also joined the campaign. The BJP leadership named Minister Yashodhara Scindia as the main campaigner and tried to convert the election into a fight between Yashodhara Scindia and her nephew Jyotiraditya Scindia, but that was not to be. Both Yashodhara and Jyotiraditya did not speak a word against each other. The two constituencies are part of erstwhile Gwalior state where male members of Scindia family exercise a lot of influence.

It seems that this time Yashodhara and her campaign was a liability to the ruling party. In one of her speeches warned the voters that if they don’t vote in favour of the BJP candidate, they will be denied the benefits of various government schemes. nearly held out a threat to the voters. The video of her speech became viral and Congress lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, which asked Yashodhara to explain her conduct. The Commission gave two days to Yashodhara to explain her version. has already sent her version, but the Commission is yet to announce its verdict.

Congress has also accused minister Maya Singh of violating the model code of conduct. But the Commission gave her a clean chit. Maya Singh is also a close relative of Scindias. Complaints were also made against some officials. In the case of a Collector, the Congress complaint was found to be true. BS Jamod, the Collector of Ashok Nagar, which is part of Mungaoli constituency, was removed after complaints of in the voters’ list were found to be true. Jamod was feted a year back for doing commendable work in the preparation of photo voter ID lists.

The Congress has claimed that the irregularities in voters’ lists were not limited to Mungaoli alone. The position was the same in Kolaras also. It claimed that what has been discovered is just the tip of the iceberg. The party said that it is getting the voters’ lists examined in detail.

The Mungaoli election has turned into a battle of castes, where both Congress and BJP have put political interests ahead of the development agenda. Both parties have fielded Yadav candidates — who are relatives — and could grab equal share of votes in their community. BJP believes it has a strategic edge by nominating Baisaab, of former MLA Deshraj Singh Yadav. Congress is equally confident that it has blunted this tactic smartly by fielding Deshraj’s cousin, Brijendra Singh Yadav.

With Yadav votes likely to be split, the other caste factor will tip the scales in Mungaoli. There are 35,000 SC votes, 20,000 Lodhi and 18,000 Dangi votes, which could change the fate of either party, locals say. In a neck-and-neck race, other castes also play an important role — chiefly the Kataria community, with 15,000 votes. Gurjars, Kushwahs and Brahmins together have 10,000 votes. Jains and Muslims have 7,000 votes each. BJP needs to fill a gap of 22,000 votes it lost to Congress in the 2013 assembly polls. This is why the caste equation takes centre stage this time. A section of voters isn’t impressed with the high-voltage tussle over electing an MLA only for eight months. Assembly polls are due in November.

Mungaoli doesn’t wear the trappings of a poll-bound region. Scattered groups go around shouting slogans. There are hoardings here and there. The silence holds suspense for both sides.

L.S. Herdenia
©IPA Service 

Photo from the Internet

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