Narendra Modi and Amit Shah will lead the BJP's poll campaign from the front.
The BJP is sparing no effort to ensure that the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government is voted back to power when Madhya Pradesh goes to the polls later this month. Even as senior leaders shrugged off reports of mounting anti-incumbency, the party leadership on Tuesday released a star-studded list of 40 campaigners featuring everybody from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The BJP, which has been in power here for 15 years, won the 2013 elections with a thumping majority. However, many believe its support may be waning in the backdrop of the Vyapam scam and the Mandsaur agitation. And the Congress, led by party leaders Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia, wants to make the most of the situation.
Among the other star campaigners on the list are BJP president Amit Shah, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Textile Minister Smriti Irani and actor-turned-BJP legislator Hema Malini.
Former Chief Minister Babulal Gaur also figures on the list, but he may be denied a ticket from Govindpura. Although he had earlier threatened to contest as an independent candidate if denied a ticket, he reversed his stance yesterday.
Elections will be held in Madhya Pradesh on November 28, and the votes counted on December 11. While the Congress is yet to declare its chief ministerial candidate, Mr Chouhan filed his nomination papers from Budhni in Sehore district yesterday.
Both Mr Scindia and Mr Nath have emerged forerunners for the chief minister's post in case of a Congress victory. While Mr Scindia represents Guna in the Lok Sabha, Mr Nath is a nine-time parliamentarian from Chhindwara.
The coming election, however, is unlikely to be a two-horse race. Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has said that it will play a key role in the formation of the next government in Madhya Pradesh if voters deliver a fractured mandate. "We will win at least 32 seats in the 230-seat state assembly. If neither the BJP nor the Congress get a majority, the Congress will have to support us to form the next government," state BSP president Pradeep Ahirwar said recently.
(With inputs from agencies)