Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls: As MP votes on Monday,it’s Scindia vs Chouhan

The 42-year-old Guna MP has emerged as the main challenger to Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Written by D K Singh | Gwalior | Published: November 24, 2013 12:01:10 am

As campaigning came to a close in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday ahead of Monday’s polls,the Congress party’s hopes were clear on the posters across this region: “Jan jan ki yahi pukaar,mukhya mantri Jyotiraditya Scindia abki baar” (The call everywhere is for Jyotiraditya Scindia as Chief Minister).

The 42-year-old Guna MP has emerged as the main challenger to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,who is seeking to beat 10 years of anti-incumbency by reminding people of the reign of “Shreeman Bantadhaar” Digvijaya Singh marked by “potholes”,“power outages”,“firing on farmers” and so on.

Criticising the BJP’s strategy to target Digvijaya,Scindia,in an interview to The Sunday Express,said,“You (Chouhan) have been there for 10 years. Talk about yourself. You spend Rs 300 crore on ad campaigns on Atal Jyoti Abhiyan. Where is the electricity? There are cases against 13 ministers but not one resignation,not one chargesheet,not one FIR.”

As for Chouhan’s attempt to portray himself as a farmer’s son through his “Mama versus Maharaj” slogans,Scindia said,“You said it. That is what it is — ‘ex-royal’. We are in the 21st century. I had the honour of studying in good institutions. I worked for a living for seven years as a banker… As for my family background,of course,I am proud of my family legacy of public service. If I go back to the history of my family,they were farmers and sons of the soil. They were Patels (village heads) of Kanekha village in Satara district of Maharashtra. That was how my family started,and worked hard to later join the Maratha army. They rose through the ranks and that is the history of hard work,not of what many would believe as samantwaad.”

Appointed Congress campaign committee chief in September,Scindia criss-crossed the state,addressing about 135 public meetings and rallies. What,however,is the talk of the town here are his two meetings in favour of the Congress candidate contesting against his aunt Yashodhara Raje in Shivpuri. Asked whether he had broken any unwritten Scindia family code of not campaigning against a family member,Jyotiraditya said,“I am a Congress worker. I must do what my job as Campaign committee chief entails. That’s what I did.”

Yashodhara told The Sunday Express: “In my parliamentary elections also,he (Jyotiraditya) had campaigned against me. I have not gone to his Guna parliamentary constituency though. He must have his compulsions. So be it.”

While the BJP’s campaign strategy centred around Chouhan as a mascot of development,integrity and probity in public life,the Congress sought to shift the focus to local issues and local candidates.

After an impressive three-hour roadshow in the city,which coincided with Narendra Modi’s rally there,as Scinida reached the INTUC ground at Azeera on Thursday evening,he targeted the Chouhan government’s development claims. “Swarnam Madhya Pradesh,jahan Prof Sabharwal ki hatya,Dronacharya ki hatya,ABVP ke students ne kar di…Swarnam Madhya Pradesh jahan mining mafia ne IPS officer ka sar tractor se kuchal diya…Swarnam Mahya Pradesh jahan (RTI activist) Sheela Masood ki hatya ho…” He used “Swarnam Madhya Pradesh” mockingly over 50 times in his 45-minute speech.

“I am not an astrologer but I believe the Congress will form the government. Chouhan has failed to deliver on the promises he made to the people. You go and check yourself what development they have done. It’s total hogwash,” said Scindia. While many of his party colleagues also predict a “close finish”,the common refrain is that the Congress may have started too late. Scindia himself was appointed campaign committee chief only in September.

Asked about his projection as the party’s CM candidate,he said,“I am very clear. People always accused my father of being un-ambitious. I also believe in focusing on the responsibility entrusted to me by my party leadership and I don’t think beyond that. My responsibility is to make sure that we work as a team and what happens after that is anybody’s guess. My pursuit in life is to ensure development and well-being of people and not positioning for myself.”

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