One of the primary poll issues in the Madhya Pradesh election is BJP’s move to topple the 15-month old Kamal Nath-led Congress government in March 2020 with the help of Jyotiraditya Scindia, who defected with 22 MLAs, including six ministers. Its impact is visible also within the BJP as its old loyalists are in a constant tussle with Scindia’s supporters in several constituencies on ticket distribution and running the election campaign.
BJP has justified the coup on the grounds that Congress ran its 2018 election campaign with Scindia as a likely contender for the chief minister’s post but he was sidelined once Kamal Nath assumed the top post. Congress’ promise of waiving off the farm loans is mentioned by several voters in the rural areas. Weeks after the Congress government was formed there were agitations in parts of the state to demand its implementation. Scindia had used this plank to bring down the government. However, some feel Nath had begun the process of loan waiver but he lost his post.
Others question the ethics of toppling an elected government. “See what happened in the recent Karnataka elections where the BJP government formed after causing defections in Congress was defeated badly. The results can be the same here,” said Mangal Singh, a retired government employee.
But it is the infighting in BJP between Scindia supporters and the old loyalists who had been working for years but feel the fruits have gone to the new entrants.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan also draws flak as voters in some pockets are of the view that he gave his ministers and government officials a free hand while trying to hang on to his post. “This time Chouhan was never confident as there was a constant buzz about the high command in Delhi asking him to step down. As a result, the conduct of some of the ministers and bureaucrats was not fair,” a local politician said, preferring anonymity.