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Inside BJP's impressive show in Madhya Pradesh are 14 rallies addressed by Modi touting development

PTI

BHOPAL: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed 14 rallies in Madhya Pradesh during campaigning for polls and reached out to young voters by reminding them of the failures of previous Congress governments on various fronts as he doubled down on the development of all sections.

Modi's appeal seemingly clicked with voters, including women, in the central state where the ruling BJP has won 33 seats and leading in 131 out of 230 constituencies where results are being declared on Sunday. The prime minister also led a roadshow after elections were announced last month in MP.

As BJP devised a strategy to defeat anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh which has been under its belt since 2003, barring 18 months from December 2018 to March 2020, Modi reached out to various sections of voters, including women, youngsters, tribals, besides the traditional supporters of the saffron party.

The BJP's campaign theme "MP ke mann mein Modi, Modi ke mann mein MP" received wide acceptance during the campaigning.

On the penultimate day of electioneering, Modi addressed three election rallies and led a road show. He was joined by Union Home Minister and strategist Amit Shah.

Hitting out at Congress, Shah raised the Ram temple issue at the hustings. He said the people of Madhya Pradesh will celebrate Diwali again on December 3 when votes for the assembly elections will be counted, and on January 22 when the Ram temple in Ayodhya will be inaugurated.

In September, Shah took upon himself the tasks of poll management and forming strategies for the November 17 elections. Shah toured Madhya Pradesh extensively. 

In a bid to quell dissent over the distribution of poll tickets, he camped in the state for three days. He also made rebels beat a retreat and reached out to BJP cadres and other leaders.

As the top brass of BJP was leading from the front, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh, popular among voters as "mama", propagated the flagship Ladli Behna Yojana, which has become a hit among women.

Under the scheme, women get Rs 1,250 per month. The number of beneficiary women is a staggering 1.31 crore out of 2.72 crore women voters in the state.

Chouhan is the longest-serving chief minister of Madhya Pradesh who has been at the helm since 2003, except from December 2018 to March 2020 when Congress was in power.

Notably, the BJP didn't project any leader from the state as its CM face, apparently to beat anti-incumbency, and sought votes for "lotus", the poll symbol of the party. This was the first time since 2003 that the BJP didn't project the chief ministerial face.

As part of a strategy, BJP leaders, including JP Nadda, Shah, and Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Rajnath Singh, launched five Jan Ashirwad Yatras instead of Chouhan.

Smarting under its defeat in the 2018 MP assembly polls by a slender margin against Congress, the BJP didn't take any chances this time.

The BJP appointed Union minister Bhupendra Yadav as the state election-in-charge and his cabinet colleague Ashwini Vaishnaw as the co-incharge for the assembly elections in July.

Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar was named as the convenor of BJP's election management committee for Madhya Pradesh polls.

While Congress had promised financial assistance of Rs 1,500 to women under Nari Samman Nidhi if voted to power, Chouhan rolled out the Ladli Behna scheme by providing Rs 1,000 per month to women. He also promised to hike the assistance to Rs 3,000 in tranches and implemented a Rs 250 monthly hike.

On November 17, Madhya Pradesh recorded an impressive 77.82 per cent voter turnout with around 76.02 per cent of women voters casting their ballots.

Several Union ministers and leaders from other states, including Yogi Adityanath, campaigned for BJP in MP. For Congress, Mallikarjun Kharge, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were the star campaigners.

State Congress president Kamal Nath addressed one to two election meetings daily during the campaign. In contrast, Chouhan (64) addressed eight to ten rallies on average every day to drum up support for the BJP.

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