Up from its tally of 38 in 2003, the Congress edged past the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2018 Madhya Pradesh polls winning 114 seats in the 230-member assembly and formed the government.
But its dreams were upended in March 2020, after Jyotiraditya Scindia, now a Union minister, and MLAs backing him switched over to the BJP, helping the saffron party wrest power.
The Congress is now gearing up to take on the BJP over alleged corruption, jobs and issues tied to tribals, farmers and women.
Its morale fortified by the emphatic victory in Karnataka, the Congress could launch an aggressive campaign in MP, and Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, both governed by it, before heading for next year’s big-stage contest — Lok Sabha polls.
Here is a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the Congress in the Hindi heartland state.
Congress’ vote share rose to over 40 per cent in 2018 from 30 per cent two decades ago.
State Congress chief Kamal Nath trying hard to blunt BJP’s Hindutva moves by organising religious discourses on his home turf Chhindwara. He also got opposition INDIA bloc’s Bhopal meet cancelled after Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leaders’ controversial remarks on ‘Sanatan Dharma’.
Many BJP leaders have joined the Congress in recent months.
Expected support on 47 seats reserved for STs of which it had won 30 in 2018.
Dearth of strong organisational set-up, unlike BJP’s robust structure.
Scindia’s absence may hurt in Gwalior-Chambal region where Congress had won 26 of 34 seats last time. Its tally dipped to 16 after bypolls following defections by Scindia loyalists.
There are 66 seats where Congress could not win in past two or more elections.
BJP’s move to declare candidates even before announcement of poll dates and Congress’ wait-and-watch position strengthened the perception that it is wary of factionalism.
BJP raking up ex-CM Digvijaya Singh’s tenure (1993-2003), claiming it was marred with appalling condition of roads, erratic power supply.
Anti-incumbency is a concern for the BJP, which has completed 18 years in the government.
Wrangling within the BJP’s state unit. For the first time in two decades, many BJP leaders, including few Scindia loyalists, have joined opposition parties.
The Congress has managed to create noise around unemployment, VYAPAM (recruitment) scam and alleged irregularities in Patwari exams.
The Aam Aadmi Party not running a high-decibel campaign in MP like it did in Gujarat last year.
The BJP has maintained 40-plus per cent vote share, except for a slight dip in 2008, since 2003.
Multiple visits by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP’s master strategist and Union home minister Amit Shah to MP in the past two months could turbocharge the ruling party’s poll machinery.
The BJP has lined up stalwarts like Narendra Singh Tomar, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Prahlad Patel, which could counter anti-incumbency by reinforcing speculation that current Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is unlikely to be its CM face.
New players like Aam Aadmi Party and All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen could eat into Congress’ support base.
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