16 Nov 2023

Madhya Pradesh elections 2023: Congress faces stiff resistance from BJP in Mahakoshal; who will ultimately shine here?

Madhya Pradesh elections 2023: The Congress secured victories in 24 out of the 38 assembly seats in the Mahakoshal region in Madhya Pradesh in 2018. However, this time, it faces strong opposition from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Madhya Pradesh is divided into six key regions — Mahakoshal, Gwalior-Chambal, Central India, Nimar-Malwa, Vindh, and Bundelkhand. These regions, each with distinct political dynamics, hold the key to power in the state.

In previous election  Cong performed exceptionally well in Mahakoshal 

In the previous election, the Congress performed exceptionally well in the Mahakoshal region, consisting of eight districts, contributing significantly to its total tally of 114 seats, bringing it close to the majority mark of 116 in the 230-member House.

The upcoming elections in Madhya Pradesh, scheduled for November 17 with counting on December 3, present a different scenario. The BJP is determined to challenge the Congress in Mahakoshal, particularly seen as a stronghold of former Chief Minister Kamal Nath. 

The region has become a battleground for contrasting narratives — one advocating for a change in government and the other praising the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Notably, Mahakoshal encompasses eight districts — Jabalpur, Chhindwara, Katni, Seoni, Narsinghpur, Mandla, Dindori, and Balaghat. These districts, falling under the Jabalpur administrative division, include 13 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates, of which the Congress won 11 in the last election.

Priyanka launched her party's campaign in Jabalpur

Both major political parties have intensively campaigned in Mahakoshal. Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi launched her party's campaign in Jabalpur, promising financial assistance for women, restoration of the Old Pension Scheme, free electricity, and agricultural loan waivers. 

BJP has fielded prominent leaders to challenge Cong

The BJP has fielded prominent leaders, including Union ministers Prahlad Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste, signaling its strong intent to challenge the Congress.

The BJP's campaign focuses on Prime Minister Modi, with the slogan 'MP Ke Mann Me Modi,' prominently displaying his posters across the region. However, local residents express discontent over the region's developmental lag, contrasting its current status with the past.

The electoral contest in Mahakoshal is primarily between the BJP and the Congress, although the pre-poll alliance between the Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party adds a triangular dimension in some constituencies.

Issues like unemployment and dissatisfaction with the lack of development are prevalent among voters. The BJP, aiming to regain ground among tribals, has strategically campaigned in Mahakoshal, emphasizing visits by Modi and Chouhan.

Outcome of elections will test Nath's influence

The political landscape in Mahakoshal is complex, with the popularity of Congress leader Kamal Nath being a significant factor. The outcome of the elections will test his influence, particularly in his home district of Chhindwara, where the Congress won all seven seats in the last election.

While the BJP has made efforts to mitigate the "anti-incumbency wave" by engaging with tribals, predicting the final results in Mahakoshal remains uncertain. 

The 2018 elections resulted in a hung assembly, leading to a coalition government under Kamal Nath, which collapsed in 2020, paving the way for Chouhan's return as chief minister.

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