Bhopal: After 13 years as chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan is facing his toughest electoral battle. The BJP, which has been in power for 15 years, is banking solely on Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the Assembly, but, this time around, the saffron party is carrying the burden of scams and anti-incumbency.
But a new idea struck the BJP’s brainstorming cadre. For a fourth victory in the Assembly elections, the BJP is focussing the election campaign on young voters. According to electoral roll data, there are well over 1.5 crore young voters, constituting about 30% of the electorate who have only seen the ‘Shiv-Raj’, since they voted for the first time.
To be exact, 1.37 crore have only Shivraj in their minds as a leader with figments of the publicised dark ages of the Congress. These young voters with only Shivraj reign in their memories will play a crucial role in deciding the fate of Chouhan and the BJP in these Assembly elections.
The BJP had won the 2003 elections, but Shivraj was sworn in as the chief minister in 2005. Shivraj, himself, knew the importance of young voters and a series of mega-employment drives and start-up fairs were organised in August, just two months before the model code of conduct came into force. In 2017, Chouhan claimed to have provided employment to 300,000 youth in 2016, while promising jobs to 7.5 lakh youth. This year, he announced expansion of the Medhavi Chhatra Yojana to all castes. Chouhan also promised mobile phones to over 300,000 students in the first year of college, while over 22,000 students were given Rs25,000 each to buy laptops. The CM made the laptop announcement in 2013.
The BJP’s strategy is to highlight the significant achievements of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government as it faces a challenge from millennial voters who have not seen the much-publicised dark era of Digvijaya Singh. It is estimated that the state has about 1.53 crore voters between 18 and 29 years of age. The BJP has started such campaigns as ‘Sarkar Sarkar Mein Fark Hai’ and ‘Daave Nahin Pranam’, comparing the state’s condition under Digvijaya rule and under Shivraj rule to reinforce its message.
The outcome is awaited. It was in 2013 that PM Narendra Modi underscored the importance of young voters before the party while serving as head of the BJP’s election campaign committee. To reinforce the Yuva strategy, BJP think-tanks launched a ‘Yuva Town Hall’ programme on Sunday in 230 Assembly constituencies, with Chouhan once again as its face.
A live telecast of the programme in Bhopal was organised across the state. The BJP Yuva Morcha was entrusted with the task of gathering the youth. Dharmendra Pradhan, Union minister, and the MP BJP’s election-in-charge in Bhopal, knowing the criticality of the youth had compared youth leaders to ‘Hanuman’, who would stop only after achieving his goal.
The BJP is working to lure middle-aged voters who were young during Digvijaya’s rule by targeting the then governance on the issues of power, roads, water, farming, and irrigation.
Voters age bracket
Age group Voters
- 18-19 1,578,167
- 20-29 13,783,383
- 30-39 12,874,974
- 40-49 9,930,546
- 20-40 26,658,357
Young electorate dynamics
- Of the 5.39 crore voters, 56.09% is of the age group of 18-40; of these, 27.38% are between 20 and 29 years of age.
- 25.58% voters are between 30 and 39 years of age.
- Over 1,500,000 such voters in the state will exercise their franchise for the first time.
- 3.13% are between 18 and 19 years of age.
Pro-youth schemes of CM
- Medhavi Vidyarthi Yojana
- Pichhda Varg Swarojgar Yojana
- Yuva Contractor-Engineer Yojana
- Free cycle distribution to students
- Pratibha Kiran Yojana
- Gaaon ki Beti Yojana
- Vikramaditya Nishulk Shiksha Yojana
- Kaushal Samvardhan/Kaushalya
- Ladli Laxmi Yojana
- CM’s Young Professional for Devpt
- Kanyadaan Yojana
- Yuva Swarojgaar Yojana