BJP sets about redrawing narrative in MP
In Madhya Pradesh, where elections are coming up, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to talk about development, progress made in areas like agriculture and power, and the success of welfare programmes. This is to counter the idea that chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been in office since 2005, is “tired.” In the fall of this year, the state will vote for a new assembly.
“The party leadership is aware that there is a perception that the chief minister is tired, so the story will focus on the work that the government has done,” a party member who asked not to be named said. “In line with this, the party will highlight the accomplishments of the BJP government through a sectoral focus.”
Some of the most important things that will be talked about are that the state now has more power than it needs, that agriculture has the highest growth rate at 7.3%, and that women who don’t pay taxes will get 1,000 per month, a functionary said.
In the coming weeks, the party plans to do a number of things to reach out to more people. One of these is to bring experts from different fields into the party. The ministers’ 15-day Vikas Yatra, which ended on February 15, didn’t get much of a response, so the government has decided to make plans for “microtargeting of different sections” and “co-opting people of eminence.”
“Usually, a lot of people join before an election, and most of them are interested in politics. We want to get well-known people from different fields to join the party so they can bring new ideas,” the party official said.
With these efforts to change the image of the chief minister, the leadership hopes that the BJP’s way of running the government will become a key part of the election story.
Plans are also in the works to deal with the identity problems of different castes, especially those of the scheduled castes and tribes, whose support is important for the party that wants to stay in power. STs make up about 21.2% of the population, while SCs make up about 15.62%.
“In 2018, both the SCs and STs and the upper castes turned against the party. This time, the focus is on getting more people to vote for Hindutva and reducing differences between groups, said a second official who did not want to be named.
In 2018, SCs protested against changes made by the Supreme Court to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA), which were later undone by an ordinance from the Union government. The decision to give 10% of government job and school openings to people with lower incomes was seen as a way to make the upper castes happy.
The BJP is spending a lot of money on developing the Mahakal temple corridor in Ujjain and giving 100 crore to build a temple and centre for saint Ravidas in order to win over the SCs. They are doing this to try to keep the Hindu vote.
The party’s leaders are also trying to fix the internal disagreements that were seen as a major cause of the BJP’s election loss in 2018. It got back to power in 2020 after some Congress members left.
“The tickets were given out based on a survey that looked at the candidates’ qualifications and how likely they were to win. The cadre and the people in charge of the state were not aware of such a process. So, there were some disagreements about how to give out tickets, which led to losses,” the first functionary said.
The state unit has been told to put their differences to rest because it is possible that 30–40% of the current legislators could be fired.
“The last time, our team didn’t expect to lose. “They couldn’t know what would happen when the tickets were given out,” the first official said. “This time, we have everything we need. If tickets aren’t decided by consensus, like they were before 2018, there won’t be any confusion or rebellion.