More than four million people will vote on Saturday to choose mayors and corporators in some of Madhya Pradesh’s main urban centres, an election seen as a test of whether the Congress can make a dent in a BJP bastion of 12 years.
Both the BJP and the Congress are contesting all the seats in 11 municipal corporations and councils including those in Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Chhindwara with the results expected on February 4.
Out of power since 2003, the Congress is hoping to turn things around, battling not only the dominant saffron party but also its own divided house.
The BJP’s media in-charge Hitesh Bajpai said the party was sure of winning all the four mayoral seats and at least two third of the corporators’ seats in the polls.
The party’s confidence stems from the fact that it has been winning election after election under chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, into his third term.
The party almost made a clean sweep in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 by winning 27 seats out of 29. Earlier in 2013, it had retained power by winning 165 seats against the Congress’ 58.
The Congress, on the other hand, is grappling with leadership issues and infighting.
However, state Congress spokesperson JP Dhanopia said the party could “overshadow” the BJP if the “Chouhan government allows free and fair polls and the government machinery doesn’t interfere in the election process”.
State election commissioner R Parasuram said all security arrangements have been made to ensure smooth polling in 5,241 polling booths in 417 wards.
The media certification and monitoring committee (MCMC) said on the eve of polling that it was probing two alleged cases of paid news in Indore, the state’s commercial capital.
(With PTI inputs)