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Lok Sabha polls: Eye on clean sweep in Madhya Pradesh, BJP concentrates on debilitating Congress organisation

In the run-up to Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has set an ambitious target to induct 1 lakh workers of Congress in Madhya Pradesh, including disgruntled influential leaders, in its fold to achieve a clean sweep of all 29 seats, according to a senior leader. The strategy is to cripple Congress at the grassroots level and simultaneously ensure defections of senior leaders who are unhappy in the party organisation, as per political observers and BJP insiders. In the 2019 elections, the BJP virtually white-washed Congress in the central state by winning 28 seats, except Chhindwara constituency, a bastion of Kamal Nath which Congress managed to save.

On the other hand, MP Congress chief Jitu Patwari said deserters have no future.

The BJP has set a specific target to induct 50,000 Congress workers from Chhindwara and asked its district unit to achieve this goal, another saffron party leader said. “I think around 50,000 workers, including influential leaders unhappy with Congress, have already joined the BJP, ” claimed MP BJP chief VD Sharma.

He said that the defection of big leaders of Congress is only talked about, even though Congress is seeing the “exodus” at district, tehsil, block and booth levels across the state.

Sharma, seeking a second term in Lok Sabha from Khajuraho seat, claimed at least 1 lakh workers of Congress across the state are going to cross over to BJP before the Lok Sabha polls.

On March 15, former Congress MLA Antar Singh Darbar and his colleague from Indore, Pankaj Sanghvi and others joined the BJP. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Mohan Yadav claimed, “Modi Ka Parivar was growing at the fastest pace in Madhya Pradesh”. Madhya Pradesh has been the political arena of BJP doyens like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Jan Sangh stalwarts like Vijaya Raje Scindia and Kusha Bhau Thakre. A BJP leader claimed it was Union Home Minister Amit Shah who asked party leaders and booth workers at a closed-door meeting held in Gwalior to fetch disgruntled leaders and workers of Congress. Shah asked the attendees at the meeting to induct local influential leaders of Congress and leave the induction of senior leaders from the opposition camp to BJP’s Central leadership, he claimed. According to him, Shah told BJP leaders not to worry about the influx of Congress leaders and assured them that their seniority wouldn’t be affected and they would enjoy a special place and respect in the party. “The BJP has set a target to induct 50,000 Congress workers from Chhindwara and asked its district unit to achieve this goal,” BJP nominee from the seat, Vivek Sahu, told PTI. Last week, Deepak Saxena, a close aide of Kamal Nath resigned from Congress and is expected to join BJP. Notably, the “exodus” from Congress to the BJP accelerated in Chhindwara after Kamal Nath and his MP son Nakul Nath went to Delhi last month amid speculation about a switchover to BJP. The Nath father-son duo have dismissed as “media creation” the reports of their potential switch. Sahu claimed more than 5,000 Congressmen from Chhindwara have already defected to the BJP. “I left the Congress due to Nakul Nath. I was not getting along well with him. He does not like senior party leaders,” said former Chhindwara city Congress president Nand Kishore Suryavanshi, who joined BJP on March 21. According to political observers, the BJP is aiming to deprive Congress of its foot soldiers who play a crucial role during elections. Former state Home Minister Narottam Mishra, a Brahmin leader, has been entrusted to lead the party’s team looking for potential Congress turncoats, they said. Mishra and the MP BJP chief have persuaded several Brahmin leaders from Congress to join BJP including former Union minister Suresh Pachouri, said a political observer. Pachouri, who was once close to the Gandhi family, had said he joined the saffron party as Congress had refused the invite for the Ram temple consecration ceremony in January. Speaking on the issue, Patwari said, “In a democracy, elections answer this question.” He said the deserters had already gone into oblivion in the past. Senior journalist and a visiting fellow with Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Rasheed Kidwai, said the Congress is losing its ground force in MP. “Hundreds of party leaders from district level to state functionaries have left the grand old party over the last two months. This exodus quickened after Kamal Nath and his son Nakul were widely reported to be toying with the idea of crossing over to the BJP,” he added. Kidwai said the damage is huge and it seems the Congress is no longer a force to challenge the BJP. Since 2014, the Congress has seen the exit of over 50 influential leaders, including 15 former chief ministers and an equal number of former Union ministers, AICC functionaries, and others, he added. “In Rahul’s Congress, the party’s ideology has failed to get people excited,” Kidwai added. Jairam Shukla, a political observer and former editor of the monthly magazine ‘Charavathi’ brought out by Pandit Deendayal Vichar Prakashan, said Congress was a sinking ship from which leaders were jumping off. “The BJP has been trying to win over those Brahmin leaders from Congress who are upset with the party’s move to not attend the consecration of Ram temple in Ayodhya,” Shukla added. Madhya Pradesh will vote in four phases between April 19 and May 13.

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Source: Economic Times