Saturday, December 9, 2023

Voting begins in Madhya Pradesh

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Voting commenced at 7 a.m. today for all 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, lasting until 6 p.m., except for specific constituencies where polling concludes at 3 p.m. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aims to maintain its nearly two-decade-long rule, while the Congress seeks to unseat the incumbent Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.

Webcasting is operational at 42,000 polling stations, and extensive security measures involve 700 central force companies and two lakh state police personnel. The election will determine the fate of over 2,500 candidates, with 5.59 crore eligible voters, including 2.87 crore men and 2.71 crore women.

Key issues include the BJP’s shift to “collective leadership” amid perceived fatigue with the Chouhan government. The Congress, with Kamal Nath as its unequivocal choice for chief minister, emphasizes issues like corruption, unemployment, price rises, and farmer problems.

Noteworthy is the participation of smaller parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party, Aam Aadmi Party, and Samajwadi Party, with a focus on appealing to OBCs, Dalits, women, tribals, and youth.

The election holds significance for Jyotiraditya Scindia, who joined the BJP in 2020, leading to the fall of the Kamal Nath government. The Congress, which performed well in the Gwalior-Chambal region previously, faces the challenge of Scindia’s shift to the BJP.

Agriculture, a significant sector, features prominently in promises from both parties. Chouhan relies on the Ladli Behna Yojana, while Congress pledges measures like the Old Pension Scheme, health insurance, and agricultural loan waivers.

The BJP emphasizes the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has adjusted its strategy based on experiences in previous elections. Both parties make promises to various demographics, including youth, farmers, and marginalized communities.

The election outcome, scheduled for December 3, will not only determine the state government but also set the tone for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

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