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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

BJP connects with voters over ‘Chai-pakora’ for Madhya Pradesh bypoll

Over plates of piping hot pakoras and cups of tea, senior ministers are holding corner meetings in what is being called chai aur bhajjia ke saath chaupal par samvad

bhopal Updated: Feb 22, 2018 18:52 IST
Ranjan, Hindustan Times, Kolaras (Shivpuri)
(HT photo)

Facing a tough battle in the two assembly bypolls, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going all out to connect with the voters in Madhya Pradesh.

Aiding the effort is the ubiquitous pakora, or bhajjia as it is known in the area. Over plates of piping hot pakoras and cups of tea, senior ministers are holding corner meetings in what is being called chai aur bhajjia ke saath chaupal par samvad.

Voting for Kolaras and Mungaoli assembly constituencies will be held on February 24 and would be closely watched to gauge public mood ahead of the state election due later this year. The MLAs representing the two segments died last year, necessitating the bypoll.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is leading the campaign to snatch the two seats which the Congress won in 2013 assembly election.

At least 15 of his ministerial colleagues and several senior party leaders, including members of Parliament, are out campaigning for the BJP.

Kolaras and Mungaoli are part of the Guna parliamentary segment, which is represented by senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Lok Sabha.

The death of the two MLAs necessitated the bypoll.

Scindia is leading the Congress’ campaign which is riding high on its victory in Ater and Chitrakoot assembly bypolls and best showing in 20 years in Gujarat, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.

The BJP’s poor show in civic body elections is only adding to the pressure. Voters have taken note of frequent ministerial visits and a string of poll promises.

The sheer number of ministers camping in the constituencies, the CM’s announcement of Rs 1,000 for every Saharia tribal family and his decision to include members of other backward classes in his ministerial team showed that the BJP was on a sticky wicket, said Mukesh Sharma, who is in charge of the Congress’ office in Kolaras.

“The CM has visited the area at least 15 times in the last two-three months. All ministers are also headed this way. Where were they for all these days?” said Sangam Patak, a transporter and a voter in Kolaras.

Scindia has similar questions. Where was the CM and his minsters all these 14 years, the Congress MP asks in his public meetings.

The Congress has also alleged irregularities in voter lists and lodged complaints with the Election Commission, which recently shifted out collector of Ashok Nagar in Mungaoli segment.

Vishal Batra, a coordinator at the BJP’s election office in Kolaras, has a different view.

“Yes, there are 15 ministers and eight to 10 MPs campaigning but this is not unusual for us because we take every election seriously,” said Batra.

First Published: Feb 22, 2018 18:52 IST

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