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BJP may be short-circuited in MP

BJP might find it difficult to win many seats in Madhya Pradesh in the general elections, writes Abhilash Khandekar.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2004 14:02 IST

BJP might find it difficult to win many seats in Madhya Pradesh in the general elections. And that is not so much because the opposition is mounting a tough challenge, but because the power factor might kick in.

One of the major reasons why the Congress government led by Digvijay Singh was routed in last year’s assembly elections was its inability to manage the power sector. With summer almost here, the BJP government led by Uma Bharti could become very unpopular if it fails to deliver on the power front, which it hasn’t yet.

Authoritative sources in the government have told the Hindustan Times that Bharti has told Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee that it will be very difficult for the BJP to win more than 10 seats if more power is not provided to the state.

But state bureaucrats who have been shopping for power countrywide have not had much joy. Chief secretary B.K. Saha and energy secretary Dhiraj Mathur met the Union energy secretary to sort out the problem, but were told that Madhya Pradesh got more power than most states any way.

This prompted state officials to approach other states, including Goa, but there doesn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel yet. “The situation is quite grave,” a senior state electricity board official admitted, adding that the situation was getting worse with each passing day.

And that is no exaggeration. At present, the demand-supply gap is 1,600-1,800 MW. And the demand is rising. Normally, the daily demand is around 5,000 MW, but of late that has risen to 5,200 MW. And with the increasing pressure, power-generating units are developing snags. That has led to supply falling to 3,500 MW on an average.

For the Congress, this is the major campaign issue. They are running a campaign saying the BJP lied to the people when it said it would sort out the problem quickly when it came to power. State Congress spokesman Manohar Bairagi points out that the Uma Bharti government has not been able to improve the power situation.

In the circumstances, the BJP’s hopes of improving on its tally of 21 seats (out of 29) seems to be a tall order.

First Published: Mar 24, 2004 18:07 IST