BHOPAL: In the coming Lok Sabha polls, the battle in Madhya Pradesh could be Mission 29 Vs Mission 20.
On one hand, unfazed by the loss of power in the state the BJP will work for winning all 29 seats, the Congress, enthused by a return to power in the central Indian state after 15 years is eyeing to win at least 20 seats.
In the 2014 polls (a year after it won a thumping majority in assembly polls winning 165 seats) the BJP riding the Modi wave won 27 out of the 29 Lok Sabha seats, while the Congress was decimated to just two seats, Jyotiraditya Scindia in Guna and present CM Kamal Nath in his pocket-borough Chhindwara.
One of the 27 seats, the Ratlam-Jhabua seat which was won by the BJP in 2014, however, was later wrested by the Congress in 2015 by-election.
Both, the Congress and the BJP have begun the necessary spadework for the general elections. While the Congress national general secretary in-charge for the state Deepak Babaria met with senior leaders, including state party president and CM Kamal Nath in Bhopal on Thursday, the newly appointed BJP Lok Sabha in-charge for MP state, the UP transport minister Swatantra Dev Singh and co- in charge Satish Upadhyaya held meeting with state party top brass in Bhopal on Friday to chalk out the organizational programmes in the run-up to the general elections over the next two months.
While key sources within the state Congress unit confided to the New Indian Express that the party is eyeing to win at least 20 seats in the state, BJP's co in charge for Lok Sabha polls in MP and ex-Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyaya said on Friday the party will field winnable candidates who can fetch for the party all 29 seats.
The Congress national general secretary Deepak Babaria also made it clear there was no possibility of cabinet reshuffle/expansion in MP, appointment to state corporations or changes in the party organization before the LS polls. He confirmed that there was a strong possibility that senior leaders who lost the recent assembly polls in the state could be fielded in the Lok Sabha polls by the party.
Senior Congress leaders, who lost the assembly polls in the state, include outgoing Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh, Ramniwas Rawat, outgoing assembly's deputy speaker Rajendra Singh, ex-minister Mukesh Naik, state Congress working president Surendra Chowdhary and ex-MP Sunderlal Tiwari.
Key sources in state Congress confided that none of the newly elected MLAs or ministers will be fielded in the LS polls, owing to the party not having a simple majority in the Vidhan Sabha on its own.
While the newly appointed BJP in-charge and co- in charge for LS polls in MP state made it clear that nothing about prospective candidates for the 29 seats were discussed in the meeting in Bhopal on Friday, but informed sources within the party maintained that it won't be surprising if sitting MP's on around 13-15 seats were replaced with new faces. Seats of some big names, like Gwalior MP and union minister Narendra Singh Tomar could be changed.
The seats where there is a strong possibility of sitting BJP MP's being denied tickets, include Betul, Rewa, Sagar, Rajgarh, Satna, Mandsaur, Sidhi, Dewas, Hoshangabad, Ratlam, Khajuraho, Vidisha, Bhind, Morena, Gwalior and Shahdol.
Out of these candidates on three seats are bound to be changed, as sitting MP's from Khajuraho and Dewas have already vacated their seats after being elected to the Vidhan Sabha recently, while the Vidisha seat too will see a new candidate as the present incumbent, the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has already made it clear she won't contest next LS polls due to health reasons.
If the results of the recent assembly polls are to be taken into account, the BJP seems to be on a sticky wicket in all four seats of Gwalior-Chambal region, including Guna, Gwalior, Morena and Bhind seats, besides other seats, among them Burhanpur-Khandwa, Mandla, Balaghat, Khargone, Ratlam, Betul and Chhindwara seats.