The results of assembly elections will have a big impact on the general elections next year. Both Congress and BJP are treating these elections as a semi-final for the 2024 elections. What are they promising to these states and other parts of the country?
New Delhi/Tel Aviv/Ramallah
As campaign picks up in five states which will hold elections in November, everything possible – from tall promises to political alignment of all sorts – is happening in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Mizoram. Also, the level of political discourse is getting heated and – in some cases – toxic.
The counting of votes will be done on December 3. The results will have a big impact on the general elections next year. Both Congress and BJP are treating these elections as a semi-final for the 2024 elections and leaving no stone unturned in their effort to sweep the polls.
On Thursday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) carried out searches at the properties of Rajasthan Congress President Govind Singh Dotasra and the party’s candidate for the Mahua Assembly seat as part of a money laundering inquiry into an alleged examination paper leak case in the poll-bound state. The premises of Dotasra, a former Minister for School Education, in Sikar and Jaipur, apart from party candidate from Mahua seat in Dausa, Omprakash Hudla, and some others were searched.
After the raid, Dotasara said that not a single rupee was seized from him, only 3 mobile phones and e-mail details have been taken by ED. Addressing the people in Sikar, Dotasara said “There is no point of tension. Not even 1 rupee was seized. Only 3 mobile phones and our email were seized. Neither any paper nor any jewellery was seized. If I have earned anything in life, I have earned the love of Congress workers. But I appeal to all of you to tell this to the people of the entire Rajasthan that the Congress worker is not weak or cowardly.”
Speaking on Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son, Vaibhav Gehlot summoned by ED, Dotasara said “No matter how much the central government misuses its central agency, Congress leaders are not afraid of it.” Dotasara said that as much as the central agency will be misused, the people of Rajasthan will definitely teach a lesson to the BJP in the coming elections.
As his government comes under pressure because of ED raids, Ashok Gehlot, during a press conference in Jaipur, announced five more guarantees for the people of Rajasthan ahead of the upcoming assembly elections on November 25. The five promises by the Rajasthan CM included free laptops and tablets to students in the first year of college, insurance cover of Rs 15 lakh for loss due to natural disasters, a law for old pension schemes for government employees, purchase of cow dung at Rs 2 per kg and English medium education to all the students.
These five guarantees are in addition to two earlier promises made by Ashok Gehlot during Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s visit. The previous two guarantees included Rs 10,000 every year to the female head of the family and domestic gas cylinders to 1.4 crore families for Rs 500. “At present, Congress is the synonym for trust in Rajasthan. Congress chief (of Rajasthan) has done so much advertisement of the government’s policies, programs, and decisions, however, ED reached his house as he was targetted for criticizing the government (BJP),” said Gehlot.
He further said, “ED also learnt a lesson. It is an unfortunate thing that CM (Bhupesh Baghel) had to say that ED is roaming more than the dogs around the country.”
Rajasthan is one state where Congress and BJP are going to have direct contest. The other two states where they go head-to-head. The BJP is trying very hard to retain power in Madhya Pradesh and dislodge the Congress government in Chhattisgarh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday arrived at Chitrakoot in poll-pound Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district and offered prayers at Raghuveer Mandir here. Modi also visited Shri Sadguru Seva Sangh Trust in Chitrakoot and witnessed an exhibition on the occasion.
Earlier this week, Narendra Modi addressed a gathering at the 125th Founder’s Day of ‘The Scindia School’ in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior. Modi also held a mega roadshow in Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur and laid the foundation stone of Rani Durgavati statue and Udhyan Pariyojana on October 5.
Not taking any chances, BJP is fielding big leaders for the assembly election in Madhya Pradesh. Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday filed his nomination paper from Dimani assembly constituency in Morena district. Several BJP leaders and Tomar’s daughter were also present along with him on the occasion. Tomar is in the fray from Dimani seat against the Congress candidate Ravindra Singh Tomar.
The BJP has announced a total of 228 candidates so far in its five lists – 39 candidates each in first and second lists, a single name in third list, 57 candidates in the fourth list and 92 candidates in the fifth list. The party is yet to declare candidates for Guna (Scheduled Caste) and Vidisha seats.
The BJP has fielded Tomar in its second list of candidates for the upcoming polls. The second list contained names of three Union Ministers and four MPs (Member of Parliament). Union Ministers Tomar and Prahlad Singh Patel have been fielded from the Dimani and Narsinghpur constituencies respectively. Union Minister Faggan Singh Kulaste will contest from the Niwas seat. BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and BJP MP Rakesh Singh have been fielded from Indore-1 and Jabalpur Paschim constituencies respectively. Other notable candidates in the second list included MPs Ganesh Mantri, Rakesh Singh and Reeti Pathak.
But in a setback to the party, BJP minister Narayan Tripathi has rebelled against his party and announced the launch of his own party ‘Vindhya Janata Party’ (VJP). Tripathi also released a first list of 25 candidates from his new party for forthcoming Madhya Pradesh assembly polls. Narayan Tripathi himself is contesting from Maihar assembly constituency in the upcoming assembly elections scheduled to be held next month. The candidates list includes 10 Scheduled Tribes (ST) reserved seats, one Scheduled Caste (SC) reserved seat and 14 general category seats.
Addressing a press conference in the state capital Bhopal on Friday, Tripathi said that his party would field 40 candidates for the polls. The list of 25 candidates was released and soon the list for remaining 15 candidates would be released. “Vindhya is important for development and I always raised the issue of Vindhya. When we spoke in BJP, they made us rebels. After that I decided that I would have to do everything myself.”
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has taken a jibe at the Congress party over ticket distribution for the state assembly polls saying Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s mill has ground former CM Kamal Nath this time. “Currently, mills are running in the Congress party. Kamal Nath used to say that his mill grinds very fine but this time Digvijay Singh’s mill ground Nath itself. Nath used to talk about tearing kurtas of Digvijaya Singh and his son Jaivardhan Singh but now Digvijaya Singh is getting Kamal Nath’s kurta torn by cancelling the tickets of Kamalnath supporters. Overall, Digvijaya’s mill has ground Kamalnath,” CM Chouhan said.
Ahead of the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President JP Nadda began his two-day tour of Chhattisgarh from Friday. Nadda will hold meetings at the state BJP office in Kushabhau Thakre Complex in Raipur in the evening of October 28. On October 29, the BJP President will hold a meeting at the Ekamattam Complex and will also participate in the “Mann Ki Baat” program in Amlidih. According to the BJP, JP Nadda will also address a public meeting organized at Swami Atmanand High School in Padriya.
In Telangana, the only southern state to go to polls next month, too many factors are at work. Telangana Assembly polls are scheduled to be held on November 30. Telangana is set to witness a triangular contest between the BJP, the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi, and the Congress in the upcoming assembly election. In the previous Assembly election held in 2018, BRS managed to win 88 seats out of 119 and had a dominant vote share of 47.4 per cent. Congress came in a distant second with 19 seats. Its vote share was 28.7 per cent.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday announced that the next Chief Minister of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state will be from a backward caste if the party is voted to power. “Today I want to tell the people of Telangana, give your blessings to BJP and form the BJP government. BJP will give Telangana a Chief Minister from the backward class,” Amit Shah said addressing Jana Garjana Sabha in Suryapet.
With Assembly elections in Telangana on sight, the BJP seems to be working strategically to unseat the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi led by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in the state. Earlier on Thursday, Nizamabad BJP MP Dharmapuri Arvind said that BJP will win the upcoming state assembly elections with a full majority, and the Congress will come in third place in many constituencies. “BJP will win this election with full majority and the Congress will third in many constituencies,” Arvind said.
That projection may be too optimistic. All this will be clear on December 3 when the next phase of battle for 2024 begins.