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Gujarat tonic for Shivraj

Bhopal, Dec. 25: The Gujarat effect seems to be growing: now, Madhya Pradesh wants to get into election mode.

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and several other leaders of the ruling BJP are toying with the idea of calling early polls in the heartland state, preferably sometime in May next year.

The term of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly ends in December 2008, but Chauhan and these leaders feel early elections would help the party retain power.

For one, they believe the BJP will do well in Jhabua, Ratlam and other districts that share borders with Gujarat. Chauhan’s camp also thinks early polls would help the party avoid the possible negative impact of unpredictable monsoons.

Chauhan is not the only one for whom the thumping Gujarat victory has worked like a tonic.

In Rajasthan, chief minister Vasundhara Raje carried out a long-awaited ministry shuffle whose message, at least partly, was that her critics should do well to fall in line behind the state’s only charismatic leader.

On the political plane, Chauhan and his supporters are counting on the dissidence in the state Congress. Although the party recently won some bypolls, it created further divisions.

In the Khargone Lok Sabha bypoll, Arun Yadav’s victory upset rivals of his father, state unit chief Subhash Yadav. In Sanver, those opposed to Jyotiraditya Scindia went on high alert after the success of Scindia loyalist Tulsi Selawat in an Assembly bypoll.

So deep is the rivalry within the state unit that both pro- and anti-Yadav leaders have been camping in Delhi for the last 10 days for an audience with party chief Sonia Gandhi to settle the leadership issue.

Sources said the bypoll victories were more a reflection of the influence of regional satraps than the strength of the Congress organisation.

The BJP, which has already launched its Mission 2008, will hold janashirwad (public blessing) rallies in every district from January 15 to February 15.

Zonal presidents, district chiefs and general secretaries will meet in Bhopal on January 5 and 6 followed by brainstorming sessions on January 9 and 10 to be attended by 100 handpicked workers.

The party’s youth wing has also got into the “act”. Along with some Bajrang Dal activists, workers of the youth wing vandalised a Christmas tree at the Raja Bhoj Airport lounge in Bhopal.

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