Personal purposes
THE WEEK|November 01, 2020
The bypolls are about Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s popularity, Jyotiraditya Scindia’s prestige and Kamal Nath’s survival
SRAVANI SARKAR

ON OCTOBER 10, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, dressed in a beige kurta and brown jacket, was seen kneeling on a dais with folded hands, his trademark smile pasted across his face. He was campaigning for cabinet colleague Hardeep Singh Dang in Suwasra in Mandsaur district, ahead of the byelections scheduled for November 3. That a four-time Madhya Pradesh chief minister would do this for a candidate who was an MLA in the rival camp till seven months ago made it all the more compelling.

The Congress made fun of Chouhan, saying that he had been brought to his knees by the 15-month Congress rule under Kamal Nath. But, political watchers say that the act was significant in the context of the crucial bypolls to 28 seats. Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia was the key player in the game that saw the BJP regain power in the state in March, but Chouhan is the key to sustaining its nascent government. With his on-stage antics, Chouhan indicated that he was willing to use his most trusted weapon— humility—to achieve his task.

Even as Scindia slogs it out in his stronghold, Gwalior-Chambal, to ensure that his supporters win most of 16 seats in the region, the BJP has officially decided to make “Shivraj hai toh vishwas hai (With Shivraj there is trust)” its battle cry. Chouhan is addressing 90 to 100 meets—an average of three to four meetings per constituency. These meetings will be mostly solo, with only influential local leaders joining him. Also, only images of Chouhan and state president Vishnu Dutt Sharma grace posters and banners.

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