Parties bracing for ballot battle

Parties bracing for ballot battle

The battle lines are being drawn and political parties are getting ready for the polls. Though every party whether it be the BJP or the Congress or...

The battle lines are being drawn and political parties are getting ready for the polls. Though every party whether it be the BJP or the Congress or regional parties in states which are due for polls like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh or Telangana and Andhra Pradesh exude confidence that they would be in the driving seat, no party is 100 per cent confident of clear victory.

After nine years, a situation is being seen on the political horizon of the country where every party is putting its best and has realised that it has to sweat it out to be in power despite distributing freebies and claiming to be transferring money by pressing a button.

Till recently, a peculiar situation was developing across the country where parties like BJP at centre and ruling parties like BRS in Telangana and YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh felt that no one could challenge them and that the opposition was decimated. But now all such parties have started feeling a sense of insecurity.

The stellar performance by Congress party in Karnataka has worked as Sanjeevani for the grand old party which is now going aggressive in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. In Andhra Pradesh it still is unable to revive itself as it does not have a leader who can make the party come alive.

At the national level, the opposition parties are still unable to stitch an alliance and it may have to hold few more meetings before some understanding can be arrived at. There are maverick leaders who even play spoilsport.

But then the worry for the saffron party is what if Congress comes to power in states like Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh ahead of Lok Sabha elections? The BJP is confident of winning in Rajasthan and hence it is not much worried about that state but if it loses either in MP or Chhattisgarh or both the states, it could cause a dent in the image of the BJP.

It is in this backdrop that the Prime Minister in consultation with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, JP Nadda and party general secretary B L Santosh seems to have decided to reshuffle the cabinet and draft some of the seniors for party work. The party is also unhappy over a new culture of leaders indulging in public criticism of the party. Normally it is Congress party which is known for such things. But surprisingly now the Congress party is showing signs of truce within the warring factions of the party and is trying to forge ahead putting all the internal differences on back burner at least till the polls are over.

Hence, the cabinet meeting scheduled for July 2 would prove to be a crucial one. So, what can be expected from this crucial cabinet meeting? If the buzz in political circles is to be believed, MPs from Chhattisgarh may be inducted into the cabinet while some from West Bengal would be drafted for party work. Modi may also decide to give representation to some Muslim leader. There has been a vacancy in this category after Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had gone from the cabinet.

But before this, BJP is likely to hold three key meetings between the central leadership and state-level functionaries on July 6, 7 and 8. It is expected that a decision might be made on changes in the organisation at the central and state level. The saffron party proposes to divide the leaders into groups like for example those from Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal and J&K may be formed as one group.

Similarly, leaders form north east will form another group. Leaders of Southern and Western states would be formed into third group. While the meeting of group consisting of northern states would be held in Delhi, the south and western group will meet in Hyderabad and the north eastern group will meet in Assam.

These groups will review the ground situation in the states which are part of the group and focus on hyperlocal issues. They will also try to prepare a tentative list of “right candidates” and will recommend the issues that need to be taken up during the campaign. These decisions would be based on various survey reports both from the grass root level and commissioned surveys the party has been undertaking.

Though the jumbo cabinet meeting is scheduled for July 3, no changes are likely to be announced on that day. A final decision is likely on after the July 8 after the three groups would be submitting their reports assessing the performance of the present MPs and legislators and the party leaders in each state.

These meetings are expected to come up with recommendations on how to face the anti-incumbency factor in Madhya Pradesh, the leadership crisis in Telangana despite having a strong base in Telangana etc.

The interesting factor is that both the Congress and BJP would be focusing on state specific campaigns to counter each other both for the Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections. They are also going to work on social engineering formula and fine tune strategies to counter opponents. It is also being said that the BJP was contemplating to bring back some of the old allies of NDA like TDP and Akali Dal into its fold.

In the previous cabinet reshuffle, ministers such as Ravi Shankar Prasad, Harsh Vardhan, Prakash Javadekar, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, and Santosh Gangwar were dropped from the Modi government. On the other hand, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Narayan Rane, Sarbananda Sonowal, and Ashwini Vaishnaw were inducted into the cabinet. The Modi Cabinet had not undergone a major reshuffle in nearly two years. The last major reshuffle took place in July 2021, when 12 ministers were axed and 17 new were sworn in.

In the wake of criticism that the BJP had been soft pedalling regarding BRS in Telangana and YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh, sources say that they would soon clear the air and go aggressive against the two ruling parties. The July 8 public meeting to be addressed by Modi at Warangal one hopes will give a clear picture. However, while BJP can still make its impact in Telangana, in Andhra Pradesh it is in a bad shape and is badly suffering from serious leadership crisis.

In Andhra Pradesh, two parties the Telugu Desam and Jana Sena are going aggressive and are attracting massive crowds. Pawan Kalyan in last nine years has matured politically and is now not only making powerful political speeches with focus on the omissions and commissions of the government. The TDP too has been aggressive. These two parties are giving an opportunity for the people to express their grievances and the buzz is that they can certainly make huge dent in the prospects of the YSRCP’s target of “why not 175”.

These elections will also show to what extent freebies and direct cash transfer alone can keep the voters glued to any party. Both TDP and Jana Sena are giving an impression that they are more practical. This time they are not promising to ban liquor.

They say they will ensure that branded liquor at affordable rates would be sold and if any village or town resolves that they would go liquor free, there the government would implement the ban. Total ban, they say is not possible.

The good sign so far is that the ensuing elections promise to present a highly interesting scenario.

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