MP: Ahead of next year"s Assembly battle, Cong makes inroads in BJP"s urban strongholds

  • | Thursday | 21st July, 2022

Bhopal, Jul 21 (PTI) By snatching five mayoral seats from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and losing two seats narrowly, Congress has signalled that it is in the reckoning for the next year"s Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh.The results of the civic elections may set alarm bells ringing in the BJP camp, as Congress had won the last Assembly polls after 15 years only to lose power following a rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia.The Sonia Gandhi-led party had a sweet revenge this time by winning mayor"s post in Scindia"s hometown.In the elections for 16 mayors" seats, Congress won five, BJP nine, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) one and Independent one. The results were announced earlier this week.Though the BJP won most seats, it is to be noted that in the last mayoral elections held in 2015, Congress had drawn a blank.Even in the byelections last year, BJP had retained the Khandwa Lok Sabha seat and wrested Jobat and Prithvipur assembly seats from Congress.But in the mayoral elections, Congress caused a major upset by winning in Gwalior, the home turf of Union Minister Scindia who and his supporters had toppled the Kamal Nath government in 2020 by joining the BJP.Congress also won the mayor"s seat in Morena, the stronghold of Union Minister Narendra Tomar.In Jabalpur, where the BJP has been winning the Lok Sabha election since 1996, Congress grabbed the mayor"s post after 18 years.The defeat in Jabalpur would be more embarrassing for the BJP as it had fielded Dr Jitendra Jamdar, considered to be an RSS ideologue, for the mayor"s post.Rewa city too got a Congress mayor after 24 years.Congress also won in Chhindwara, though the city has always been state Congress chief Kamal Nath"s pocket borough.Congress would have also won Burhanpur mayor"s seat, but the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) appeared to have played the spoilsport. AIMIM"s candidate won more than 10,000 votes as Congress"s Shanaz Ismail lost by a narrow margin of 542 to BJP"s Madhuri Patel.Nath alleged that AIMIM acted as the BJP"s `B team".In Ujjain, the Congress candidate lost by 736 votes.According to political observers, Congress could make inroads in BJP strongholds as Nath"s decision to pick up candidates on the basis of a survey helped.In the BJP camp, several prominent leaders including Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state unit chief V D Sharma, Scindia, Tomar, Kailash Vijaywargiya and Narottam Mishra were part of the selection process which may have affected the party"s performance, observers believe.In Singrauli, AAP"s Rani Agrawal, a BJP turncoat, sprang a surprise by winning the mayor"s post. It was the first civic poll victory of the Arvind Kejriwal-led party in Madhya Pradesh.A BJP rebel who stood as independent candidate won a resounding victory in Katni municipal corporation.The BJP, nevertheless, managed to retain its dominance in most corporations, municipalities and municipal councils. Both BJP and Congress claimed to have won majority of corporators" posts as well as majority of Panchayat members" posts in rural areas.The BJP is still in the driver"s seat in urban and sub-urban areas. In Jabalpur, Gwalior and Rewa, where Congress won the mayor"s post, majority of corporators in municipal councils are from the BJP.The BJP is also estimated to have won majority in nearly 300 out of 400-odd urban and semi urban bodies, political observers said, adding that the party has always been strong in cities and towns.The party, however, will have to be mindful of the fact that in 2018 it could win 107 against Congress"s 114.Congress draws its strength from rural areas which send 165 to 170 out of the 230 MLAs.The AAP and AIMIM, which made their presence felt in civic polls in the state for the first time, can eat into Congress"s votebank in the Assembly elections, political observers think. PTI LAL MAS KRK KRK

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