Senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will kickstart the Assembly poll campaign for her party in Madhya Pradesh on June 12 with a road show and a rally in Jabalpur after offering prayers to the Narmada river, considered the state's lifeline, a functionary said on Saturday.
Assembly polls are likely to be held at the end of the year in MP, where the Congress emerged as the largest party in the 2018 polls but its government fell in March 2020 following a rebellion by Jyotiraditya Scindia and more than 20 of his loyalist MLAs, paving the way for the Bharatiya Janata Party to return to power.
Jabalpur is the largest city of the state's Mahakoshal region, where the Congress had won 11 out of the 13 Scheduled Tribe-reserved seats in the 2018 Assembly polls, leaving the Bharatiya Janata Party with victories in just two constituencies.
"Priyankaji will first do Narmada puja at Gwarighat on the bank of the holy river here, after which she would lead a roadshow and then address a public rally. She will launch the party's campaign and Sankalp 2023 on June 12 after seeking the blessing of Narmada river," Congress MLA and former MP finance minister Tarun Bhanot told PTI over phone on Saturday.
Her campaigning in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka with Rahul Gandhi led the party to big wins, he added.
Jabalpur Mayor and Congress leader Jagat Bahadur Singh said the roadshow will take place over a 2-kilometre stretch, adding that 1.5-2 lakh people are expected to attend her rally later.
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People of Jabalpur division, which has eight districts, are fed up of BJP rule, due to which the Congress will sweep the Mahakoshal region in the 2023 polls, he claimed.
Another Congress leader said Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has chosen Mahakoshal as the region was left out from the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra, which moved through the state's Malwa and Central India regions and received very good response from the public.
"The rally in Mahakoshal will also boost the party's prospects in neighbouring Vindh and Bundelkhand regions. Moreover, there is tremendous resentment against the BJP in Mahakoshal and the region also has a large chunk of tribals who have traditionally voted for the Congress," this leader said.
The state has six regions, namely Mahakoshal, Gwalior-Chambal, Central India, Nimar-Malwa, Vindh and Bundelkhand.
Mahakoshal region is dominated by Jabalpur division comprising Jabalpur, Katni, Seoni, Narsinghpur, Balaghat, Mandla, Dindori, and Chhindwara districts.
In the last Assembly polls, the Congress won 24 of the 38 seats in the division, with the BJP getting 13 and one seat going to an Independent candidate.
The Congress had won all seven Assembly seats in Chhindwara district, which is the home turf of state unit chief Kamal Nath, who has been Lok Sabha MP from the area several times and is currently MLA.
Incidentally, the BJP had won 24 out of 38 seats in the Mahakoshal region in the 2013 polls, while the Congress had to be content with 13 seats, resulting in the saffron party retaining power under Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
When contacted, Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar's Jabalpur edition resident editor Manish Gupta told PTI the party which performs well in three out of the six regions of MP would come to power, adding it would be a challenge for the Congress to keep its seats intact in the Mahakoshal region in the 2023 polls.
In the neighbouring Vindh region, the BJP had won 24 seats in the 2018 polls, while the Congress emerged victorious in just six constituencies, Gupta added.
In the 2018 polls, the Congress won 114 seats in the 230-member Assembly, while the BJP got 109 seats.
The Congress formed a government under Kamal Nath, which fell in March 2020 after a rebellion by MLAs.
Except this period between December 2018 and March 2020, the BJP has been in power in the state since 2003.
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