28 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh have gone to polls today. The by-election in the state was necessitated after 22 MLAs of the erstwhile Kamal Nath government switched over to the BJP in March 2020, leading to the fall of the 15-month-old Congress government. The Congress is hoping that there will be resentment on the ground against the 22 MLAs who deserted the party.

The Congress campaign strategy all along has been to brand these MLAs as 'Gaddars' or traitors. Whether or not the campaign succeeds will be known on November 10.

Meanwhile, Asianet Newsable's Mohammad Yacoob reached out Madhya Pradesh Congress Working President Bala Bachchan to understand the Congress campaign and how confident the party feel about its chances in the by-elections. Read on.

Q: Today, the voters will decide the fate of 28 defectors and your party candidates. Do you think your strategy to target MLAs who deserted will pay off?

Bala Bachchan: This slogan (of Gaddars) is given by the people. The reason they have branded them so is, 'we chose legislators for five years and chose for Congress. What right did they (defectors) have to sell the votes and destabilize the government of Kamal Nath? It is the public that gave this slogan. On November 3, people will vote and replace the 'traitors' on November 10. This slogan is given by the people of Madhya Pradesh; the loss that the people underwent following the collapse of the government.

Q: Scindia camp had accused the Kamal Nath administration as a 'commission government' and that's why he along with supporters quit. What do you have to say about this?

Bala Bachchan: That will become clear once the November 10 election results come and what type of government was there, what type of CM Kamal Nathji was, who in 15 months boosted Madhya Pradesh's GDP to 19 percent, finished 'goonda' elements, and honestly governed. He was working towards boosting Madhya Pradesh's popularity in India and the world. Whatever contention they (defectors) have, will be clarified on November 10.

Q: It is said many more leaders will quit the Congress. Recently, another legislator bid farewell to the Congress and you say Kamal Nath government will be formed once again

Bala Bachchan: It's ok, they have been together. They (Scindia and Pilot) share a very good old bonding and may have hosted Sachin Pilot for that reason. They (BJP) have a system they have developed to manage legislators, and it is showing up. Why will they (BJP and Congress defectors) listen to the public? what will happen to voters' rights? This should not happen in any party and no leader should do that (defect)? After getting a ticket from Congress and becoming an MLA, suddenly they say I will resign. Can this be understood? How many offers were made will be revealed in time. Why this was done and who was behind it -- all this will be clarified soon. 

Q: How confident are you about the November 3 by-elections?

Bala Bachchan: Congress will all 28 seats. 

Q: Scindia camp claimed they were not treated well by Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh.

Bala Bachchan: Does that mean such a decision (destabilizing the government) should be taken? This not just a matter of being upset. It has many other hidden things which will be known later. How they (BJP) managed, what tactics were used, will be known at the right time.

Q: In Karnataka, which also witnessed a similar situation, many in the opposition are breathing a sigh of relief as COVID-19 and lockdown has put the administration and government at risk and many of state government's inabilities were exposed. Is there a similar thinking in the MP Congress unit?

Bala Bachchan: If we were in government and had Kamal Nath had been the CM, he would have handled the Covid-19 situation very well and would have offered good service to Madhya Pradesh. This (BJP) government is incapable.