Kubra Fatima | Dec 10, 2018 | 5 min read
The Hindi heartland hasn’t seen a more intense race in recent times, with both the Congress and the BJP racing neck-to-neck to claim Madhya Pradesh. This see-saw game continued through the day with both parties alternatively claiming maximum seats, until Congress finally pushed their nose beyond the finish line, winning 115 out of 230 seats, against BJP’s 106 seats (as of 6 pm). This, in comparison to 2013, where the ruling party won 165 seats, and the Congress scraped by with a measly 58.
In a gripping contest, Rahul Gandhi & Co. managed to dethrone three-time chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Though winning by a hairline margin, the party chief’s attempts to control the narrative for 2019 Lok Sabha polls seems to be working. To avoid another Goa-like situation, the Congress's senior leadership tried to woo smaller parties like the Gondwana Gantantra Party, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party and keep its prospects of forming the government alive.
Mayawati’s BSP, which won two seats (as of 6 pm), rushed its MLAs to Delhi to discuss future steps. Pre-election season, she had declared that her party would align with neither BJP nor Congress.
Smaller parties like BSP won two and GPP and SP won one each. NOTA (None of The Above) option was chosen by approximately 1.5 lakh voters, more than what AAP and SP polled.
While some victories were expected, others couldn’t be predicted.
BJP’s sole Muslim candidate Fatima Siddiqui, from Bhopal (North), lost massively to Congress’ veteran leader, Arif Aqueel, who won with 89,902 votes.
The Gondwana Gantantra Party exceeded expectations by winning three seats - Beohari, Amarwada and Junnardeo.
Congress’ move to field former Jay Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) leader Hiralal Alawa, as their candidate from Manawar seat, paid off, as he won by a significant margin of 27,792 votes, against BJP’s Ranjana Baghel. For all the noise created over the last few months by upper-caste outfit Samanya Pichra Alpsankhyak Kalyan Samaj (SAPAKS) they failed to win even a single seat. After boasting that that they would contest all 230 seats, pundits predicted that the outfit would considerably eat into the BJP’s vote share by stealing the upper caste youth vote bank.
Mandsaur was a surprising one, with memories of the fatal shootings from 2016 refusing to fade from public memory. However, BJP leader Yashpal Singh Sisodiya won the seat by 98,968 votes, by a margin of 17,212 votes against Congress’ Narendra Nahata.
Several efforts plagued the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh. A strong narrative of anti-incumbency came to the surface due to Chouhan’s abysmal record in generating jobs, improving health and education sectors and infrastructure like lack of roads, water and electricity. While the former Chief Minister won Budhni in a one-sided competition against Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee leader Arun Yadav by a margin of 46,393 votes, the pro-BJP result didn’t reflect across the state and wasn’t enough to save his chief minister's post.
Aggressive campaigning by Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath seems to have worked across the state: As of 5 pm, the grand old party recorded a massive win in Malwa Tribal, Mahakoshal and Chambal regions, and just about missed the mark in Bundelkhand. Malwa, non-tribal and Vindhya Pradesh regions saw a BJP victory. Dr Anand Rai, Vyapam whistleblower, who played a crucial role in forming the alliance between JAYS and Congress, also claimed that, “This time, as per the results, it can be said that tribal voters have supported Congress, which helped the grand old party make a comeback in the state.”
Dr Rai, who actively participated in Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, opined that many things went wrong for Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP in the state.
“First of all, unemployment is the biggest issue, which government could not resolve, apart from it, women safety including rape cases were on rise in the state and agrarian crisis was totally evident in the state. Corruption issues including Vyapam scam, E-tendering scam, dumper scam and many more, were the leading factors that completely dented BJP in the state," he said.
Social activist and Narmada Bachao Andolan founder Medha Patkar highlighted some reasons behind BJP’s defeat. “The BJP was involved in slogan mongering, making false promises and corruption was on rise in the state, as a result the saffron party could not retain,”she said and added that poor implementation of GST, demonetisation and schemes like Fasal Bima Yojana and Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana caused citizens a lot of suffering, which is why people turned against the ruling party.
Congress workers’ celebrations started early afternoon, in Dindori, Bhopal, and even at the AICC office in New Delhi.
State elections in Madhya Pradesh are pivotal for both the Congress and BJP. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government was eyeing a fourth consecutive term in power, which would have given the party an edge heading into 2019’s Lok Sabha polls. For the Congress, Madhya Pradesh is essential in establishing Rahul Gandhi as a serious-enough candidate for Prime Minister, and help take back what is essential a saffron region in the country.
With inputs from Ashish Tiwari and Karishma K
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