ANI Photo | Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh to go for assembly polls today as BJP, Congress contend for power in high-stakes battle

The voting will take place for Madhya Pradesh’s all 230 assembly seats and Chhattisgarh’s 70 seats–in the second phase of the election–on Friday.
In both of these Hindi heartland states, the main electoral fight is between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.
While in Madhya Pradesh, the incumbent is the BJP, in Chhattisgarh, it is the Congress that is seeking to retain power.
In both Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the BJP has not projected anyone as a chief ministerial candidate and has banked heavily on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the election campaign.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has ruled for almost 18 of the past 20 years. The Kamal Nath-led Congress government was in power in the state for 15 months, until March 2020. Kamal Nath’s government collapsed in a rebellion led by Jyotiraditya Scindia, in which 22 MLAs loyal to him resigned.
Now the Congress, led by Kamal Nath in the state, is keen to oust the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
In MP, voting will be held from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, in Baihar, Lanji, and Parswara assembly seats of Balaghat district and some booths of Mandla and Dindori districts, voting will be held till 3 p.m.
The BJP apparently has gone for “collective leadership” in the state and has not projected Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its clear choice for the chief ministerial post but there is no ambiguity in the Congress with Kamal Nath as its clear choice for the post.
A reason for BJP banking on collective leadership is the perceived “fatigue factor” with the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government. Though Shivraj Singh Chouhan may not be personally facing anti-incumbency, there have been reports of a yearning for change among sections of the population
In Chhattisgarh, the BJP, which ruled the state continuously between 2003 and 2018, is seeking to replace the Congress government led by Chief Minister Bhupesh Bahgel.
The first phase of polling in the state for 20 seats was held on November 7. Both parties claimed to have done well in the first phase. The Congress had a good strike rate in these 70 seats in the 2018 elections, having won 51 of them.
While the BJP has sent a message of collective leadership, with the party heavily banking on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his campaign in the state, the Congress clearly projected Bhupesh Baghel as its chief ministerial face.
Polling parties have reached their designated polling stations and 958 candidates are in the fray in this phase.
Prominent candidates in the fray include Baghel, state Assembly Speaker Charandas Mahant, Deputy Chief Minister TS Singh Deo and BJP state president Arun Sao.
Over 18,000 polling stations have been set up in the state for voting in this phase. Out of these, 727 are ‘Sangwari’ booths where women polling personnel have been deployed

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