Friday, June 14, 2024

Cultural capital Jabalpur emerging as political hotbed in poll-bound MP

Dubbed as the cultural capital of Madhya Pradesh, Jabalpur is heading towards occupying the centrestage in the run-up to the Assembly elections due later this year.

In the race for power, both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress are set to launch their poll campaign with mega promises of freebies.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is scheduled to release the first installment of Rs 1000 to the women under its newly launched scheme – “Ladli Behna Yojna” from Jabalpur.

This scheme is not just an attempt to woo the 38 per cent women voters of the state, but also a bid to reduce the high anti-incumbency against the nearly two-decade rule of Chief Minister Chouhan.

Not only the state BJP unit, but the central leadership of the saffron party banking on the scheme to change the mindset of the people. According to government data, around 1.25 crore women of age group between 23 and 60 years would receive their first installment of monthly financial benefit under the scheme.

According to sources, it is a well-planned experiment of the state BJP leadership. Later, an internal survey would be conducted to assess whether the scheme has minimised the anti-incumbency against the ruling BJP.

On June 12, Congress national general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, will kick-start the Opposition party’s poll campaign from Jabalpur with a roadshow and public meeting, after performing the Narmada poojan on the banks of the river.

The political importance of Jabalpur stems from the fact that it’s considered the Gateway of Gond and Baiga tribe-dominated Mahakoshal region of MP.

The 38-Assembly seats strong region, which includes seven seats of state Congress chief Kamal Nath’s pocket-borough Chhindwara district, had gone the Congress’s way in 2018 Assembly polls. The party had won 24 out of the 38 seats, while the BJP managed to win just 13 and one seat was won by a Congress rebel.

In Chhindwara, all the seven seats were won by the Kamal Nath-led party in the 2018 polls, while in Jabalpur district (the BJP had won six out of the eight seats, while Congress managed just two seats in 2013), the Congress and BJP won four seats each in 2018.

Even in the July 2022 mayoral polls, BJP suffered setbacks on all three seats of Mahakoshal region. While the Congress won Jabalpur (after 18 years) and Chhindwara, the BJP’s official candidate was trounced by its rebel in Katni.

Knowing well that retaining Mahakoshal holds the key in boosting its prospects for returning to power in the state on its own, the Congress has planned to get the poll campaign launched by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from Jabalpur.

With Priyanka setting the tone for the year-end polls from Jabalpur, it will also send a positive message to another poll-bound state, the Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh, which neighbours Mahakoshal region of MP.

During a visit to Jabalpur a couple of days back, former Chief Minister and state Congress chief Kamal Nath had said, “We are going to kick start the poll campaign from Jabalpur on June 12. I believe that people of Madhya Pradesh will take the state toward development to secure the future of the new generation. I believe that people will support the Congress in the upcoming Assembly polls.”

Notably, Jabalpur also assumes significance for the BJP, as it is where party’s national president J.P. Nadda and state party chief VD Sharma’s in-laws live. The city is also seen as the political ‘karmabhoomi’ (workplace) of Sharma.

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