High-decibel campaigning came to an end on Wednesday evening for the November 17 assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, where top leaders of contesting parties criss-crossed the state addressing rallies, holding roadshows, trading charges and making a slew of promises to seek votes for their candidates.
Electioneering ended in Madhya Pradesh at 6 pm except in Naxalites-hit districts of Balaghat, Mandla and Dindori, where campaigning drew to a close early – at 3 pm.
A total of 2,533 candidates are in the fray for the 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, where the main battle for power is between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress.
As many as 5,60,60,925 voters – 2,88,25,607 males, 2,72,33,945 females and 1,373 third gender persons – are eligible to exercise their franchise on Friday when single phase voting opens from 7 am to 6 pm at 2,049 polling stations in the state.
On the last day of campaigning, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, his party’s general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union minister Smriti Irani and Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis (all three from BJP) made last minute efforts to woo voters for their respective candidates.
Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav also addressed rallies on the last day.
On the penultimate day of electioneering, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed three election rallies and held a roadshow in Indore. Union Home Minister and BJP’s chief strategist Amit Shah also addressed a similar number of gatherings and held a roadshow in Jabalpur on Tuesday.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and others, too, campaigned for their candidates on Tuesday.
Electioneering saw PM Modi, Shah, BJP president JP Nadda, Union minister Rajnath Singh, MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, among others, touring the state and addressing election meetings to drum up support for saffron party nominees in all the 230 seats.
Congress president Kharge, his predecessor Rahul Gandhi, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, MPCC chief Kamal Nath, former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, among others, addressed public rallies to garner support for their 230 candidates.
The campaigning saw a crack in the opposition INDIA alliance with its constituents Congress, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) fielding candidates against each other after failing to arrive at a pre-poll tie-up. Their leaders also engaged in a war or words.
Modi, the BJP’s top campaigner, paid nine visits to MP and addressed 14 public meetings after election schedule was announced. The BJP is banking heavily on the Prime Minister’s charisma and popularity to retain power.
The saffron party campaign’s was woven around slogans and chants of “MP Ke Mann Mein Modi” and “Modi Ke Mann Mein MP.” Modi, Shah and other BJP leaders accused the previous Congress governments in the state and at the Centre for allegedly indulging in corruption and loot of public money, and also spoke about the upcoming Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
The BJP did not miss a chance to emphasise that it has pulled MP out of ‘BIMARU’ (laggard) category when power cuts, pathetic road conditions and water scarcity were the order of the day and cautioned people that if the Congress returns to power it will ruin the state again.
The Congress electioneering focused on promise of a caste survey and welfare of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) who constitute around 48 per cent of the state’s population.
Priyanka Gandhi opened her party’s campaign for MP on June 12 by launching a blistering attack on Bthe JP saying that 225 “scams” had taken place in the 220 months of BJP rule in the MP. She claimed only 21 government jobs were provided in the state by the BJP government in the last three years.
The Congress campaign targeted the BJP government over unemployment, price rise and alleged that 50 per cent “commission raj” was prevailing in the state.
Electioneering brought to fore the fissures in the INDIA bloc ahead of next year’s general elections with SP chief Akilesh Yadav accusing the Congress of betraying him by not conceding six seats to his party as promised. The SP has fielded 71 candidates in MP.
Similarly, an ally of the INDIA grouping, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Singh Mann addressed more than 12 rallies and carried out roadshows to muster support for their 66 candidates.
Another constituent of the opposition grouping, Janata Dal (U), is contesting polls in 10 constituencies.
The Mayawati-led BSP has fielded 183 candidates, while its ally Gondwana Gantantran Party, a tribal outfit, has given tickets to more than 45 nominees. BSP president Mayawati addressed 10 rallies and attacked the Congress for not acting on the Mandal Commission report while in power at the Centre.
She and Akhilesh Yadav, at separate election meetings, blasted the Congress for seeking a caste-based survey now, saying the party did nothing on the issue when it was in power after independence.
The Congress, with 114 seats, emerged as the single largest party after the 2018 polls and formed the government with the help of BSP, SP and independent MLAs under the leadership of Kamal Nath.
However, the Nath regime collapsed in March 2020 after a rebellion by now Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and Congress MLAs loyal to him, paving the way for the return of the BJP government headed by Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)