BJP in a fix over Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s rallies in 24 assembly constituencies
BJP leaders said social distancing norms will be difficult to ensure even if the party gets permission to hold the rallies from the district administration.Updated: Jun 27, 2020, 07:07 IST
The BJP’s Madhya Pradesh unit is in a dilemma over organising chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s rallies in all the 24 assembly constituencies, which will witness by-polls in the coming months, as the number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases are on the rise in the state, according to party leaders.
They said social distancing norms will be difficult to ensure even if the party gets permission to hold the rallies from the district administration
Leaders said the Bharatiya Janata Party is planning to hold the rallies in all the 24 constituencies by mid-July as Election Commission of India is expected to announce the dates of election by July end.
“Organising of virtual rallies was discussed in the party meetings and it will be held too given the present Covid situation but what worries the party at this moment is dissidence within the party at the local level in many of these constituencies which is difficult to quell through virtual rallies only,” a senior BJP leader familiar with the party’s plan said.
Of the 24 assembly constituencies in 14 districts, 16 fall in Gwalior-Chambal region including five in Morena district alone. Twenty-two of the 24 seats fell vacant in March when Congress MLAs resigned from the state assembly in a rebellion against the then chief minister Kamal Nath.
All these former MLAs are loyalists of Rajya Sabha member Jyotiraditya Scindia. who quit Congress to join the BJP on March 11.
“A traditional rally with the thin presence of people will send out a wrong message about the party’s base and the CM’s popularity but with a large gathering, it will be difficult to ensure social distancing among participants. Another problem is how to get permission from the district administration as the state government itself has banned in the state social, political and religious gatherings and programmes,” the BJP leader cited above said.
At the same time, said the leader, “The party leadership wants party workers meetings in every constituency in a bid to mobilise them for the election but given the Covid situation several party leaders are scared as to how to protect themselves from corona if such meetings are held and they have to attend these meetings.”
Notably, on Thursday, the BJP’s national president JP Nadda had emphasised on the importance of virtual rallies.
“Whereas in traditional rallies a gathering of even 2 lakh persons is considered an impressive gathering through virtual rallies the party could reach out to lakhs and lakhs of people,” Nadda had said.
A second BJP leader said, “Virtual rallies are in the offing as a part of the election campaign but the party wants at least one traditional rally in each of the constituencies to be addressed by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other leaders.”
The districts which will witness by-polls include Morena, Gwalior, Bhind, Datia, Shivpuri, Guna, Ashok Nagar, Sagar, Anuppur, Raisen, Dewas, Dhar, Indore and Mandsaur. Many of these districts are hotspots.
On Thursday, the district administration in Morena sealed the Madhya Pradesh-Rajasthan border after a spurt in Covid-19 cases.
“As of now, the party is planning virtual rallies for the entire state to be addressed by our leaders, including chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president VD Sharma, on the completion of one year of the NDA government at the Centre in its second term,” Rajneesh Agrawal, the BJP spokesperson of the state unit, said.
“The dates will be announced soon. I am not aware of any such rally about state assembly constituencies,” he added.