As the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh loom on December 3, political tension escalates, with both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress closely monitoring the record turnout, led notably by women voters. The BJP asserts that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma remains an electoral asset, while the Congress anticipates significant wins, potentially shaking the BJP’s stronghold in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Crucially, December 3 marks a pivotal moment for the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA). Depending on the results, INDIA will chart its course for alliance talks ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. The success of the Opposition’s attempt at unity hinges on this, especially considering the setback when the Congress chose to contest independently in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress posed a formidable challenge to the ruling BJP, prompting a reliance on Modi’s image. Simultaneously, the Samajwadi Party’s seat-sharing plea was rejected, leading to exchanges of words between party leaders.
The INDIA bloc, after an optimistic start, faces uncertainties, with Rajasthan also awaiting its turn to influence the political narrative. The prevailing anticipation leans towards Congress victories in all three states, solidifying its position as a formidable force and affirming the INDIA bloc’s reliance on Congress leadership. December 3 serves as the litmus test for the INDIA bloc’s relevance, determining whether it will emerge as the defining alliance for the 2024 general elections. Conversely, BJP victories could unravel the INDI-Alliance, dealing a blow to its constituents. The vulnerability of the INDI-Alliance is attributed to the Congress’s actions. The original concept aimed at presenting a united front against the BJP, but the Congress’s reluctance to share seats in key states disrupted this unity. A Congress triumph in Rajasthan would further underscore its self-sufficiency within the alliance, emphasizing that the INDIA bloc cannot thrive without Congress leading from the front. The harsh reality is that, among the INDI-Alliance parties, only the Congress holds the potential to defeat the BJP. The BJP’s reliance on women voters, particularly those benefiting from the Prime Minister’s welfare schemes, adds an intriguing dimension. The extension of the free ration scheme for five more years was a strategic move, aimed at securing support from women who prioritize food security over other considerations.
December 3 will also unveil the electorate’s stance on the INDIA bloc’s demand for a ‘Caste Census’. Congress victories would validate the need for such a census, reinforcing Rahul Gandhi’s vocal advocacy. Conversely, BJP wins may indicate a weariness with caste dynamics influencing elections. The call for a ‘Caste Census’ aligns with the Opposition’s push for equitable participation of Other Backward Castes in governance. Congress victories would signify that the era of ‘Mandal’ politics is far from over, posing a formidable challenge to the BJP’s ‘Kamandal’ narrative. Rahul Gandhi’s departure from traditional Congress thinking on the ‘Caste Census’ may resonate with the electorate, reflecting in the December 3 results and affirming the Congress as the linchpin of the INDI-Alliance. In its current form, the Congress strives to reclaim its former glory amid a growing discontent with Modi’s rule. The timing appears opportune, with a surge in the Congress’s winnability rating, marking a significant shift after a decade of political dynamics. December 3 emerges as the D-Day when numerous political arguments will find resolution, shaping the trajectory of Indian politics in the coming years.