BHOPAL: Ater and Bandhavgarh bypolls will determine the fate of top Congress leaders and their future role in the 2018 Assembly elections.Guna MP and Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia has been entrusted the responsibility of Ater. He is camping in the constituency, spearheading the campaign for party candidate Hemant Katare, son of former leader of opposition Satyadev Katare.
Similarly, senior Congress leader Kamal Nath, who represents the Chhindwara constituency, is in Badhavgarh, though he has campaigned for only a day so far. Winning a bypoll in a state ruled by the BJP for 14 years will be tough, but in case of a victory, the central leader holding charge of the constituency will emerge as the party’s face in Madhya Pradesh.
Congress is aware that its chances of winning Ater are brighter than Bandhavgarh. With the caste equation coupled with the sympathy factor, Hemant has a good chance of securing a victory. Moreover, in wake of the EVM malfunctioning complaints, even BJP knows that it would be a tough fight in Ater that has alternatively elected the Congress and the BJP since 1990.
This is mainly the reason why chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s controversial statement on Scindias’ connivance with the British to suppress people of Bhind, is being viewed with suspicion. Political circles believe that Chouhan’s statement is far from a slip-up. Rather, it is a well-calculated electoral speech intended to make Ater a fight between the ‘maharaja’ and the common man. It was also intended at garnering Tomar and Kachwaha votes for BJP candidate Arvind Bhadoria. Both these communities ruled the region before Scindias became rulers of Gwalior.
Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh and PCC chief Arun Yadav are also on the field, but central leaders Scindia and Kamal Nath are leading the campaign. The intention is clear: If Congress wins Ater, Scindia comes to the forefront in Madhya Pradesh. It will be same for Nath if he pulls off a win for the Congress in Bandhavgarh. But if the party loses, it will mean loss of stature for these stalwarts.