Post poor performance in successive assembly polls in the state and the failure to win mayoral elections in any of the ten cities that went to polls last month, the Congress faces a major challenge in the upcoming municipal polls for the three major cities, including Bhopal.
The party leaders feel if they can perform well, it will salvage their reputation to some extent. “The Congress has always performed relatively better in Mayoral elections in Bhopal in the past, so the party is working hard to ensure victory,” said a functionary in the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC).
“The first thing in our favour is that our candidate is a well-known face, who won four times in succession as a corporator and was never defeated.
Secondly, in this election, there will not be any polarisation. So, we will get the votes from both majority and minority community,” said the functionary.
The Congress leaders are counting on the fact that the victory margin of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the mayoral polls was not big in the last election. Further, before Krishna Gaur was elected in 2009, Bhopal had seen Congress Mayors in succession, so they feel they have an opportunity, this time again.
The party leaders also feel that anti-incumbency may help them, too. “We are definitely going to win the election in Bhopal. As Kailash Mishra is a strong candidate, we stand a good chance to victory,” said Congress state vice-president Manak Agarwal. Agarwal also said the party selected good candidates in Jabalpur and Indore too and it would reap handsome benefits. However, Kailash Mishra faces a tough challenge from BJP’s Alok Sharma.
Sources in the Congress said while there would not be any caste factor, as both the parties have fielded Brahmin candidates, the Congress leaders were also banking on the simmering discontent in the BJP about Alok Sharma’s candidature. In 2009, BJP’s Krishna Gaur who was elected mayor defeated Congress’ Abha Singh by 15,000 votes. Earlier, in 2004, Congress’ Sunil Sood defeated BJP’s Bhagwan Das Sabnani by around 7,000 votes.