Will Congress be able to reclaim its lost bastion in Madhya Pradesh?
Lok Sabha elections will be held in the second-largest state of the country for 29 parliamentary seats in three phases on April 10, 17 and 24.
The two dominant political parties in the state are Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress. The state has always witnessed neck-to-neck fight in the elections with both Congress and BJP giving tough fight to the other.
Madhya Pradesh is presently under the governance of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party which registered a record win for the third time in the state Assembly elections last year.
Prior to General Elections 1989, Congress had been the dominant political party in the state. However, BJP swept 24 out of total 29 seats in the 2004 General Elections and continued with the trend in 2009 Lok Sabha elections after winning majority of seats.
In the Lok Sabha elections 2014, Congress will field prominent names of Union Ministers Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia who will get renominations from Chhindwara and Guna respectively.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, will contest from Vidisha constituency in Madhya Pradesh.
Once a stronghold of Congress party, internal squabbles and infighting has affected the party`s performance in the state which led to poll debacle in the last Assembly elections.
While the Congress was elected by the people in 1985 after the assassination of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, the Ayodhya movement brought BJP back to the power in 1990.
However, it could remain in power only for two years as President`s rule was imposed after the Babri Masjid demolition.
Under the leadership of senior party leader Digvijay Singh, the Congress won the elections in 1993 and remained in power for two consecutive terms.
Changing its strategy for the polls, BJP then projected expelled former party leader Uma Bharti as its CM candidate, and the party registered a record victory of 173 seats.
The Congress party in the state has always been a divided lot mainly for the post of chief ministerial position. Despite its projection of Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindhia in the last Assembly polls, the party lost the elections.
In the last Assembly elections, the Congress party delayed releasing list of candidates due to infighting, which in turn, gave them less time to campaign for the elections.
In an embarrassment to the Congress party, Bhagirath Prasad, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, joined BJP shortly after his name was declared in the first list of Lok Sabha candidates in which he was given a ticket from Bhind to contest polls.
Meanwhile, BJP has continued to manage to woo the voters despite being surrounded by controversies including several BJP ministers facing charges of corruption. The party had a resounding victory in last state Assembly elections with Shivraj Singh Chouhan being re-instated as the CM for the third time.
One of the main factors that has worked in favour of the party is the clean political image of Chouhan, his array of development schemes along with party`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi campaigning for the party in the state.
Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will make its political debut in the state and field seven candidates for the upcoming elections.
According to majority of exit polls, BJP is likely to bag an estimated 20-26 seats in the state while Congress is expected to win around 3-5 seats only.
Whether Congress will manage to turn the tide in its favour in the Lok Sabha polls remains to be seen.
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