Why Jabalpur is at epicentre of Madhya Pradesh politics – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Jabalpur has become the sought-after city for the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress ahead of the Madhya Pradesh assembly election which is likely to be held in November-December. Both the parties chose to launch their pre-election programmes from the city, which is called ‘Sanskaar-dhaani’ (cultural capital) of the state.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan selected Jabalpur to release the first instalment of Rs 1,000 per month each to 1.25 crore women of the state under the Mukhya Mantri Ladli Beha scheme on June 10 with much fanfare.
He declared that the amount will be slowly and gradually increased to Rs 3,000 as and when funds are arranged.
On June 12, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra launched the party’s election campaign for the forthcoming assembly election from Jabalpur. The function was replete with Hindu religious symbolism.
She made six promises if the Congress government comes to power in the state. The promises include Rs 1,500 per month to women, LPG cylinder for Rs 500, 100 units of free electricity, 50% waiver on the usage of 200 units of electricity, implementation of Old Pension Scheme (OPS) and loan waiver for farmers.
Both the BJP and the Congress had their own reasons to select Jabalpur to organise their respective programmes.
Talking to TOI on June 10, Chouhan said, “We chose Jabalpur because we had launched the filling of forms for the Ladli Behna scheme in Bhopal (on March 5). Jabalpur is the cultural centre of Madhya Pradesh and is known as ‘Sanskar-dhaani’.”
Apart from what the CM said, the BJP had obvious electoral considerations for choosing Jabalpur for the Ladli Behna Yojana.
Madhya Pradesh is divided into six regions, namely Mahakoshal, Madhya Bharat, Nimar-Malwa, Gwalior-Chambal, Bundelkhand and Vindhya Pradesh. The Mahakoshal region comprises Jabalpur, Narsinghpur, Chhindwara, Seoni, Balaghat, Mandla, Dindori and Katni districts. Jabalpur is the divisional headquarters of the Mahakoshal region which consists of 38 assembly seats.
The Mahakoshal region was a traditional BJP bastion. The party had won 24 of the 38 seats in the region in 2008 and 2013 assembly elections while the Congress was victorious on 13 seats.
However, the results flipped in the 2018 election with the BJP winning 13 seats while the Congress registered victory on 24 seats.
The BJP lost the last election. It won 109 seats against 114 of the Congress in the 230-member assembly.
The BJP also lost the mayoral election of the Jabalpur municipal corporation to the Congress in the last election.
The BJP is trying hard to regain its grip over the Mahakoshal region.
On the other side, the Congress selected Jabalpur to sound the poll bugle to further strengthen its position in the Mahakoshal region.
The second reason for Priyanka’s visit to Jabalpur was religious. Addressing the rally in the city on June 12, state Congress president and former chief minister Kamal Nath disclosed that Priyanka wanted to launch the party’s poll campaign on the condition that she got to worship River Narmada first.
He said, “When I invited Priyanka ji, she refused to come. When I asked the reason behind her denial, she said she would come only when she would first worship Narmada.”
MP Congress vice-president JP Dhanopia told TOI that Jabalpur was, therefore, chosen for Priyanka’s visit as the holy river, worshipped by the people of Madhya Pradesh, is closest to a city.
Wooing the tribal voters was the third reason behind choosing Jabalpur. The Mahakoshal region has a substantial population of Scheduled Tribes (STs). The region has given several freedom fighters and distinguished personalities.
In her speech, Priyanka invoked tribal leaders such as Tantya Bheel and Badadev. She said, “This region has given revolutionaries such as Shankar Shah, Raghunath Shah and Tantya Bheel to the nation… Revolutionary women from the region who fought for freedom are Rani Durgawati, Rani Ahilyabai and Avantibai Lodhi. This region is the flag-bearer of tribal culture of the country. Therefore, we also seek the blessings of revered Badadev ji.”
Priyanka further said, “Tribal people are living in a miserable condition. You would recall the immense work (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi used to do for the tribal people. Injustice is increasing on the tribal people and other sections of the society.”
The fourth reason behind Jabalpur visit was related to luck. Dhanopia said, “Rahul Gandhi had launched the campaign for 2018 Madhya Pradesh assembly election from Jabalpur and the Congress had won. Therefore, the choice this time too fell on the city.”
The fifth reason behind the choice of Jabalpur was spelt out by Rajya Sabha MP Vivek Tankha, who hails from the city. He said the Mahakoshal and Vindhya regions of Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra had remained untouched. Therefore, it was thought to cover Jabalpur in the launch of the party’s poll campaign.
In the fight between the BJP and the Congress, Jabalpur has assumed an exalted position ahead of the Madhya Pradesh assembly election.

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