Some others are awaiting the Karnataka results to see how the party performs there before taking a final decision.
Leaders in Madhya Pradesh Congress are positive about the success of the party’s “Ghar Wapsi” initiative to bring back those who had abandoned the party after its long dry spell in the state. Nonetheless, some said that they are waiting for the Karnataka election results to be out to see how the Congress performs there before taking a final decision. Meanwhile, the state leadership can recount the new and old workers who have joined the party recently.
Dipak Babaria, AICC in-charge of Madhya Pradesh, told The Sunday Guardian, “In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has its own wave. Over 100-150 workers have already joined Congress in the state and most of them are the people who matter. We are also in the process of inducting some sitting MLAs. Their break away from BJP will result in leaders abandoning BJP, keeping in mind the huge anti-incumbency that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is grappling with in MP.”
Sources said that the leadership at the district level is witnessing a better response since the party recently won the bypolls to Mungaoli and Kolaras seats in the state. According to sources, in districts like Shahdol, Anuppur, Umaria, people who had been disappointed in Congress, are coming back.
Recently, Paras Saklecha, popular Vyapam activist, and Kamlesh Khandelwal, both independent candidates from Ratlam and Indore respectively, joined Congress. Sashi Karnawat, a former IAS officer who was sacked by the BJP government after a printing scam, too, was extended a Congress membership by party’s new state president Kamal Nath last week.
A former BJP MLA, Abhay Mishra, too, joined Congress, abandoning the BJP in March.
After the formation of the BJP government in December 2003, many Congress leaders had changed their loyalty to the ruling party. Among them were Chaudhary Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi, Dr Bhagirath Prasad, Rao Uday Pratap Singh etc.
Mahendra Joshi, long-time head of the Seva Dal from MP, said, “Elections in different states do tend to have chain reactions, but I do not think Congress is waiting for anybody. Some people left Congress due to opportunism, while a few others had legitimate issues. The latter kind of people are likely to find a way back in Congress.”
Congress workers had been losing faith given the fragmented leadership and consequential inactivity in the state, forcing many of its members to abandon the party. Workers in the party explain in hushed tones that the state high command losing-out on crucial opportunities had caused deep resentment in the party workers.
A Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee member said: “Leaders did not do enough about the Vyapam scam or farmers’ protests. These were chances for Congress to build its counter-narrative and make BJP look bad in the state early on. There was so much that could have been done, but there was no direction, which is why workers chose to leave Congress.”
However, the same sources have emphasised that since the Congress’ “performance” in Gujarat, the workers have found hope. Riding the positivity, the party announced the “ghar wapsi” programme in January this year after some members who had left the party expressed a desire to make a comeback. Nonetheless, no crucial names have joined the Congress as yet.
Former head of All India Congress Mahila Committee Sobha Oza said, “People are coming back. We are seeing an influx of people who want to work for the party. Some of them had left us before and some are fresh joinees. The party is already in an action mode in Madhya Pradesh. Even some BJP MLAs who want to join us have approached Kamal Nathji.”