JAIPUR: With former Congress colleagues and friends Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot ranged on opposite sides, the Madhya Pradesh bypolls have become a high-pitched electoral clash even before their exact schedule has been finalized.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress has asked Sachin Pilot to campaign for the party candidates in the by-elections for 28 Assembly seats in the state, most of which are in the Gwalior-Chambal region, considered to be the bastion of Scindia. Most of the seats for which Pilot has been called have a large number of Gujjar voters and Congress hopes to use Pilot to woo them.
Former CM Kamal Nath is also reportedly keen to rope in Pilot to campaign in the Gwalior-Chambal region.
Pilot is said to have readily agreed to the invitation as he is quite familiar with MP politics. He has campaigned in the same MP region in the past. Besides Kamal Nath, even Ajay Maken, the AICC General Secretary Incharge for Rajasthan, has urged Pilot to campaign in Madhya Pradesh.
On March, 22 Congress MLAs from the Scindia camp had quit the party and as lawmakers causing the collapse of the Kamal Nath-led government. Later, they joined the BJP and many of them are now ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led state government.
The bypolls now are a prestige battle and Gujjars have an influence and a substantial presence in the 16 Assembly seats of the Gwalior-Chambal region where elections are now due.
However, Pilot’s exact programme is yet to be chalked out as the Election Commission is still to declare dates for the polls, to be held simultaneously with the Bihar Assembly election. Of the 28 seats, 25 were vacated by Congress MLAs who switched to the BJP, while three fell vacant due to the death of sitting MLAs.
But the electoral battle in the Gwalior-Chambal region will be closely watched as it is considered a stronghold of now BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, a former Congress colleague of Pilot, whose defection along with 22 Congress MLAs in March brought down the 15-month Kamal Nath government. Inevitably, Congress is highlighting the “betrayal” of the rebels to woo voters in the region.
More recently, Pilot, the former Congress chief in Rajasthan had also rebelled against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot but later affirmed his allegiance to the party after a meeting with Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. According to sources, the BJP could harp on the theme that “talent and capability find little credence in the Congress,” as Jyotiraditya Scindia had tweeted in support of Pilot in July.