Confusion Reigns supreme in MP’s pre-poll arena
   Date :24-Feb-2024

Kamal Nath
By Vijay Phanshikar
THOSE who have watched Madhya Pradesh politics for the past fifty years would certainly testify that such a peculiar situation did not exist ever. For, this is one condition in which old loyalties are breaking down, new loyalties are in the making, certified loyalties are asserting themselves — and all this is only adding to a great ideological confusion that actually never characterised MP politics. Until today, lines of loyalty were pretty clearly drawn. Today, those lines are only a maze of blur whose definition is hard to be verbalised. The reference is not to the senior politician Kamal Nath from the Congress fold. The reference also is to many other people — even in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). For, when Dr. Mohan Yadav emerged as not just the Chief Minister but also the new leader of the political arena, equations changed — or threatened to change — drastically and dramatically. Former Chief Minister ‘Mama’ Shivraj Singh Chouhan and three other BJP leaders found themselves looking for suitable occupations besides their official statuses. And then came the news of Kamal Nath trying to embark on what some political observers called “another journey”. No matter the train of denials and non-denials from several persons in the Congress fold and some even in the BJP camp (who said, the BJP did not need Kamal Nath), the current story is one of utter confusion — for both, the grass-root-level political workers from all camps but also the common people with only a limited ability to interpret or decipher different political machinations accurately.
Madhya Pradesh had never seen such a situation in the past, say, fifty years. For, all the camps — no matter if in power or without it — were clearly defined political geographies, underlined by ideology, highlighted by genealogy, and crafted by terminology. Today, though some of those dimensions still operate, the loyalty barriers that stand broken have added to a great confusion in the arena of varied political cadres as well as among the voters who will have to exercise their choice in just a couple of months. What will be the parameters of that decision-making? An answer to this question is certainly not easy to come by. For, even in the BJP there are camps, while in Congress, there are only herds of itinerant sheep who get swayed to the dancing steps of their factional leaders. For the common voter, it is not easy to decipher the metaphor correctly. True, the outcome of the recent legislative elections can be a marking tool to knowing how the electorate will behave. But academic psephology may not help in assessing it beforehand. What may help is a gut feeling that thanks to the Jyotiraditya Scindias and the Kamal Naths, the people of the State are fed up with the Congress party and may turn their backs to it at the hustings.
At least at this stage, a refurbishment of its prestige as a credible political organisation appears almost impossible for the Congress party. No matter the fact that it is in power in Madhya Pradesh, even the BJP will have to work harder than usual to keep all its factional considerations at bay and united so that in the Lok Sabha polls, its candidates will fare as is being propagated by the ruling party’s dream merchants. Of course, the so-called I.N.D.I. Alliance recently saw a seat-sharing compromise between two of its major constituents about Madhya Pradesh. There is nothing new in that formula — with Congress retaining as many as 28 Lok Sabha seats with it while giving up only one for the Samajwadi Party (in the same manner as in the past). With such frozen and rotten formulations, the I.N.D.I. bloc cannot be expected to put up a great show. And when a Kamal Nath is always there to threaten the unity of the party, the picture has only gloomy colours to paint its blank spaces. Academic discussion like this, of course, is preposterous in MP at this stage. The underlining confusion in the political arena is the worst obstacle all political outfits in the fray will have to contend with.