Amit Shah's style of poll politics may be too brutal for Madhya Pradesh CM
The recently-concluded Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat was the perfect showcase of how BJP president strategises.
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The high stakes Rajya Sabha election concluded in Gujarat this week has a lot to say about the way polls are contested by the BJP under its president, Amit Shah. Madhya Pradesh, last year, had got a taste of what is now becoming a norm in the form of backroom manoeuvring, cross-voting and defections to win elections.
BJP leaders in MP, however, did not play ball and the seats went to the parties on expected lines. In June 2016, three vacancies were announced in the RS from MP. Two seats were to go the BJP for which late Anil Dave and MJ Akbar were announced as candidates. The third seat was to go to the Congress as per numbers in the assembly. Each candidate was to secure 58 votes for winning the seat and the Congress had 57 MLAs in the House.
Amit Shah saw this as an opportunity that had to be exploited and forced the state unit of the party — against its wishes — to field a BJP leader, Vinod Gotiya, as an independent candidate. Not expecting this, but realising that Amit Shah was serious in trying to snatch the seat from them, Congress leaders went into a huddle.
The party had fielded lawyer Vivek Tankha against the vacancy and what was expected to be a smooth entry in the Upper House became a contest. All eyes were now on CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, as he was the man who would have to get into action if the BJP wanted to win the seat. The party needed about 10 MLAs of the Congress to cross-vote for the BJP candidate to win.
Claims began to be made by BJP leaders that there were about 20 Congress MLAs in touch with the party. The Congress did not fly out its MLAs anywhere, secured the support of one independent and four BSP MLAs, helping Tankha win by securing 62 votes.
Why did the BJP not contest the RS elections in MP the way they did in Gujarat? Of course, the personalities involved in the Gujarat elections made it high profile but it was not as if there have been no defections from the Congress to BJP in MP. In fact, Congress defectors have been given tickets, have won and have been made ministers in the BJP government.
The fundamental difference is that Shivraj Singh Chouhan is from the old BJP that did not approve of elections being contested in the manner they are being now. Chouhan takes every election seriously, be it the Lok Sabha or a panchayat one. Presently, he is campaigning back to back in tribal seats of urban local bodies that go to polls next week. As one of his aides puts it, every election, however small it is, is taken as a final exam and not a unit test.
But Shivraj knows where to draw the line. Recently in the after the assembly by-elections, which went down to the wire, Chouhan conceded defeat to the Congress candidate who won by a few hundred votes. So while it is also true that he was close to the Congress candidate Vivek Tankha, he did not go out of his way to secure the votes of Congress MLAs for the BJP candidate.
In fact, in a show of disapproval, he did not even participate in the nomination filing of Vinod Gotiya. Amit Shah will be in the state next week. Will the old change for the new in the future?
(Courtesy of Mail Today.)