New Delhi/Bhopal : The road for the Congress to tread in the upcoming by-elections in Madhya Pradesh seems to be a challenging one. While the ruling BJP has appointed in-charge for all the seats, former chief minister and senior Congress leader Kamal Nath is trying his best to come up with a respectable show in the election that is also being seen as a 'prestige battle'.
According to sources, Kamal Nath is working on a strategy to gain more seats for Congress. Those close to him believe that this by-election is the "last option to return to power and a chance to match Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan".
His strategy is said to have played a major role behind the return of Balendu Shukla, who was close to Congress-turned-BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia's father Madhav Rao Scindia, to the Congress.
Kamal Nath hopes that Shukla will give some boost to Congress' performance in Scindia's stronghold Gwalior.
Sources believe the BJP's path is looking easy in the by-election that would be held in 24 seats. State BJP president Vishnu Dutt Sharma told IANS quite confidently that the party will emerge victorious by winning all 24 seats.
By-elections are being held for 24 seats in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh. Out of 24 seats, 22 have been vacated following the resignation of Congress MLAs and the demise of two seats. The figure required for a clear majority is 116.
Currently, BJP has 107 MLAs while Congress has 92. While the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government needs only nine seats for a clear majority, the Congress needs to win 24 out of all 24 seats.
The ground report also indicates that a clean sweep for the Congress is going to be a daunting task.
Of the 24 assembly seats where elections are scheduled to be held, 16 seats are from Gwalior-Chambal region. This is the same area where Jyotiraditya Scindia, who joined the BJP from the Congress, is believed to have dominance and popularity.
According to sources, the BJP seems to be in stronger and more comfortable position than Congress in the run up to the polls.
However, in five seats, the BJP is facing more challenges than the Congress. The seats are -- Hatpipalia in Dewas district, Sanwar in Indore district, Gwalior in Gwalior district, Sanchi in Raisen and Sarkhi in Sagar district.
The BJP is trying to tackle the infighting between some local BJP leaders there. In such a situation, the Congress is trying to take advantage of the situation.
However, BJP state president V.D. Sharma dismisses a situation like dissatisfaction within the party. He told IANS: "BJP is not a party but a family. Here, everyone talks together. There is no conflict of opinion. The party will win all the seats in the by-election on the strength of its leaders."