Even though the BJP seems comfortably poised for a victory in most civic bodies in the elections, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has addressed 90 public meetings in almost 15 days of campaigning.
He has crisscrossed the state in a helicopter, soliciting votes for party candidates even in the areas where the Congress leaders were not campaigning. But if BJP is expected to perform well in polls, what prompted Chouhan to campaign intensively?
Political observers suggest a multiplicity of reasons for the CM’s intensive campaign in the run up to the urban bodies’ polls. “For one, this is the CM’s nature, he never misses an opportunity to go amongst the public and election campaigning is one such occasion. This helps him maintain his popularity and also covers up to some extent for the shortcomings in the functioning of the government,” says political analyst Girija Shankar.
Being an astute politician, Chouhan is aware that the Congress may not have leaders campaigning but the party is still alive and could damage the prospects of the BJP in the polls. Also, not much work has been done after the Vidhan Sabha elections in November 2013 and the BJP will be facing anti-incumbency in the many urban bodies. The CM is therefore not taking the election lightly. “Any defeat in the urban bodies polls will be a reflection on the popularity of the chief minister,” said Shankar.
Notably, in contrast, PM Narendra Modi never campaigned for urban bodies’ polls in Gujarat, when he was the chief minister.
Besides the CM, Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Thawarchand Gehlot and state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan also campaigned for the elections but in a limited way.
Interestingly, most ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government also chose to stay away from the campaign ensuring that the bouquets and brickbats are both his — depending on the outcome of the elections.