Madhya Pradesh Election 2018: Why Congress stops campaigning when Rahul Gandhi is not there in the state

Between Rahul Gandhi’s last two visits to Gwalior and Indore, there was a total lull in activity.

 |  3-minute read |   02-11-2018
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In what has appeared to be an evenly pitched political battle between the BJP and the Congress in Madhya Pradesh for the last couple of months, the Congress of late seems to be frittering away its gains to the BJP by being absent from the campaign.

On the contrary, BJP leaders are continuing to organise public meetings realising that the field has been left open for them.

In the last three weeks, the Congress’ top leaders, including PCC President Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, have not been campaigning or holding public meetings by themselves.

The only time public meetings or road shows are organised are when Congress president Rahul Gandhi is in the state.

Once the Congress president leaves, there is a lull in campaign activity.

On the other hand, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan is continuing to hold public meetings across the state.

congress-inside_110218125503.jpgThe withdrawal of Congress leaders from the campaign has left the field open for BJP leaders to exploit. (Photo: Mail Today)

The absence of Congress leaders from the campaign seems to be a result of the focus on ticket distribution, meetings for which usually take place in Delhi, in the presence of the High Command and central leaders.

Deliberations on ticket distribution have taken longer than usual for the Congress this time, perhaps because the party wants to be doubly sure about candidate selection — which undoubtedly is the most important pre election exercise.

The withdrawal of Congress leaders from the campaign has left the field open for BJP leaders to exploit.

The domination in the field eventually leads to domination in the minds of the voters — something that can result in a rich harvest of votes from among the ranks of undecided voters for the political party that has mastered it.

shivraj_110218125815.jpgCM Shivraj Singh Chouhan is continuing to hold public meetings across the state. (Photo: Twitter)

Campaigning galvanises workers which is a must for the Congress given that it is pitted against a cadre based party.

The impact of the withdrawal of the Congress or conversely, the presence of BJP leaders, has been amply reflected in political surveys.

In June, the first pre-election survey gave the Congress a massive lead in MP.

It was enough to excite Congress leaders about the prospects of victory — coming as they did after 15 years of being in political wilderness — but more importantly, it spurned CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan to action.

He launched his jan ashirwad yatra — a mass contact programme, in mid July.

The next prominent survey showed the BJP in a neck-and-neck fight, with Shivraj being more popular as a CM candidate.

Since then, Shivraj Singh Chouhan has tried very hard to not vacate that space to the Congress.

Even though tickets are being finalised in the BJP too, the party still manages to get some of its top leaders and even Chouhan to hold a few public meetings. Not the same for the Congress where the top two are in campaign mode only when their party president is in the state.

Between Rahul Gandhi’s last two visits to Gwalior and Indore, there was a total lull in activity as was the case between his visit to Rewa.

PCC president Kamal Nath does not see a problem with the lull in campaigning.

“The reason why we are not campaigning is because the lesson we learnt from Gujarat and Karnataka was that we peaked at the wrong time. So what we are doing is by design,” said Kamal Nath. Perhaps, campaigning will pick up after ticket distribution, but if voters make up their minds now, it would be a permanent damage to Congress prospects.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also Read: Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan: Why BJP's prospects in 2019 will hinge on these high-stakes battles

 

Writer

Rahul Noronha Rahul Noronha

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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