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Voters lukewarm in Madhya Pradesh

Vinay Kumar

Bhopal: Campaigning is picking up in Madhya Pradesh, where the Assembly elections will be held on November 27 but in the run-up the electors are hardly enthused by either the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress.

While the BJP is focussing on developmental issues, the Congress is pulling out all the stops to highlight alleged instances of corruption in the Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s Ministry.

Also in the fray are Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Uma Bharti’s Bharatiya Jan Shakti (BJS) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), putting up a spirited fight in several constituencies spread over several regions. As many as 3,179 candidates, including 1,374 independents, are trying their luck to enter the 230-member House.

The BJP and the Congress have each put up candidates for 228 seats, the BSP has fielded its candidates in 224 constituencies and the SP in 186, while the BJS is contesting 207 seats. The Left parties have put up candidates for 35 seats and the Shiv Sena for 29.

Congress bigwigs Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Suresh Pachauri have been criss-crossing their respective regions. The BJP has thrown its weight behind Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who has emerged as the main campaigner for the party.

On Tuesday, Ms. Bharti entrusted the responsibility of her party’s political wing to the former BJP leader, Govindacharya.

Star campaigners for the Congress, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi; and BJP leader L. K Advani are expected to lead the campaign bandwagons over the next few days.

BSP supremo Mayawati began her campaign at a well attended public meeting here on Tuesday.

Her social engineering formula, which has brought upper castes also in the partyfold, is becoming a favourite topic of conversation among politically aware sections here.

Both the BSP and the BJS appear to have acquired the potential to play spoilsport and upset the prospects of the BJP and the Congress. Political observers recall that in the 2003 elections Ms. Bharti’s clout, coupled with the BJP slogan of Bijli, Sadak aur Paani (power, roads and water) paid rich dividends to the party, which bagged a record 173 seats, while the Congress, after a decade-long rule, was reduced to a meagre 38 seats.

Musical parody here and there, decorated mini trucks — sporting party flags and blaring slogans — doing the rounds and advertisements in local dailies have emerged the favourite medium for campaigning.

The candidates are also concentrating on door-to-door canvassing and addressing smaller groups of electors.

Of the seven seats in Bhopal, the former BJP Chief Minister Babulal Gaur is contesting from Govindpura. A good number of BJP Ministers lost their nominations, thanks to delimitation of their traditional constituencies.

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