Congress leader Rahul Gandhi

Washim: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses during the birth anniversary program of Tribal Freedom Fighter Bhagwan Birsa Munda, in Washim, Maharashtra on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Courtesy: Twitter

Bhopal, Nov 17 The Congress party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) led by former president Rahul Gandhi that is set to enter Madhya Pradesh on November 20, is creating a buzz in the state’s political arena, and also laying a low-key pitch for the next Assembly election scheduled to be held in the later part of 2023.

Speculations suggest that both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress were preparing their respective game plans to take on each other.

According to sources, the BJP is planning a ‘Mini Operation Lotus’ against the Congress before or during Rahul Gandhi’s BJY in the state, and it has prepared two plans.

Sources told IANS that according to the first plan, the BJP may try to poach at least 8-10 Congress MLAs.

Also, it may target Congress MLAs from tribal areas, especially which lie close to the poll-bound state of Gujarat, such as Jhabua and Malwa-Nimar regions.

According to sources, the BJP, as per its strategy, would try to create an impression that “BJY is having no impact”.

However, some political observers were also of the view that the BJP is unlikely to disclose its plan of poaching a bunch of Congress MLAs, which is “Plan A”.

“The ‘Plan B’ is to create an impression that the tribals are not with the grand old party and it may also make an impact in tribal seats in Gujarat bordering Madhya Pradesh,” a source said.

As per sources, some Congress MLAs are in touch with BJP through mining baron-turned-MLA Sanjay Pathak, who was earlier in the Congress.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Urban Development Minister Bhupendra Singh played down speculations that the party is planning to poach Congress leaders during Rahul Gandhi Yatra in the state.

“Congress is in panic mode that is why they are creating rumours. Yes, there are many Congress MLAs in constant touch with the BJP, but this ‘Operation Lotus’ is just a rumour created by the Congress. We are not worried about the Bharat Jodo Yatra because we know that it is not going to make any impact in Madhya Pradesh assembly elections,” Singh added.

In the meantime, more speculations and presumptions grew after a meeting of all BJP legislators was scheduled — just a day before BJY would enter Madhya Pradesh.

Sources said the meeting has been called by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and BJP’s state unit president V.D. Sharma. All the BJP legislators have been asked to attend the meeting on November 19.

Also, according to some sources, over 20 BJP MLAs, who fear being sidelined by the saffron party in the next polls, are planning an exit. “Most of them are loyalists of Jyotiraditya Scindia who fear getting dropped by BJP…,” a source said.

Besides, a Congress leader on the condition of anonymity, said: “BJP MLAs are in touch with Kamal Nath and if the BJP tries to play any game, the Congress has also done its preparations to give them an apt reply.”

“Kamal Nath had made a statement that ‘BJP MLAs are in touch with us’… and that is a kind of warning to the BJP,” the Congress leader added.

Source: IANS