The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept Madhya Pradesh’s urban body polls despite the opposition Congress’ efforts to capitalise on the Vyapam admission and recruitment scam that has rocked chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government.
The BJP on Sunday won eight of the 10 posts of chairpersons for which polls were held on August 12 and Chouhan described the victory as the people’s rejection of the Congress’ propaganda against his party.
Despite being hit by the multi-layered scam in recruitment and admission tests conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, the BJP now controls all 16 municipal corporations in the state.
The Congress won only the chairperson's post in Sarangpur municipality of Rajgarh district. Here are five reasons why the BJP swept the civic body polls:
1. No ambiguity in BJP leadership: While Chouhan has led the BJP since 2005, the Congress suffers from a leadership crisis. No single leader in the Congress has emerged as a person who can rally workers at the grassroots level.
2. BJP’s cadre management: Elections or no elections, the BJP has focussed on strengthening its cadre base. Enrolment of new members through a massive membership drive, done through the experiment of “give a missed call to become a BJP worker”, is an example of this focus. The BJP also keeps its workers engaged with some programme or the other round the year. The Congress’ membership drive was hardly noticeable and its management of its cadres has been lacklustre.
3. Agenda of development: The BJP continues to harp on its agenda of development and showcases this to people in juxtaposition with the era of Congress chief minister Digvijaya Singh, when roads were in a bad shape and there was an electricity crisis across the state. The Congress could not cash in on the Vyapam scam because only a few of its leaders led the attack on the government while the party’s cadres at the grassroots level were hardly involved in the campaign. “The civic body elections have clearly exposed the Congress for its lies and conspiracy against the government. The fact is the BJP has won all elections in the state, from panchayat to Lok Sabha, and in every region of the state,” said BJP state vice president Vijesh Lunawat.
4. Election management: The BJP takes every election seriously, irrespective of whether it’s a panchayat election or Lok Sabha polls. The chief minister, state BJP president and other leaders campaign aggressively in every election. The polls to the civic bodies were no exception. The BJP’s campaign is backed by a team at the state party headquarters that constantly analyses the situation at the grassroots in every ward and locality and then manages voters according to the feedback. The Congress clearly lacks an election management system.
5. Sagging morale and funds crunch: BJP workers and leaders were confident of a victory after a series of electoral wins at all levels, from panchayats to the Lok Sabha, while Congress workers were demoralised as their party has been out of power in the state for about 12 years. The BJP has adequate resources and funds whereas the Congress lacks both. But Congress spokesperson JP Dhanopia sought to defend his party, saying: “The chief minister’s statement that the results of the civic body elections were the people’s mandate against Vyapam was ridiculous. It’s a small election and didn’t reflect the sentiments of people all across the state.”