MP Civic Polls: Ruling BJP Loses 7 Mayoral Seats; Congress, AAP Gain 5 and 1
Kamal Nath addressing the media after the elections. Image Courtesy: Special Arrangement
Bhopal: Just 18 months before the assembly elections, the results of the civic polls have come as a setback to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Madhya Pradesh. The BJP lost seven mayoral seats including Gwalior and Morena and recorded a significant drop in vote share. The results were declared by the State Election Commission in two phases; July 17 and 20.
The BJP, which held all 16 Moyrol seats in 2014, lost five to the Congress, one to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and in Katni, a rebel BJP member emerged victorious by defeating her own party’s candidate by a margin of over 5000 votes.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress, flailing after losing its government to BJP in 2020 and subsequent losses in by-elections has got a major boost as it has won five mayoral posts—its best tally since 1999. It has won the Gwalior mayoral seat after 57 years and Jabalpur, Chhindwara, Rewa, and Morena- after almost two decades. In 2014-15, Congress had emerged empty-handed in mayoral elections. In 1999 and 2004, it won two seats each while in 2009 polls, it had managed to secure three mayoral seats.
Image Courtesy: BJP Madhya Pradesh
The AAP and The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which debuted in Madhya Pradesh politics with these civic polls, succeeded to mark their footprint. AAP snatched Singrauli's mayoral seat from the BJP and won 40 wards across the state while the Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM won seven wards including three in the riot-hit Khargone city.
In Khargone, an AIMIM candidate from ward 2, the worst riot-hit locality, Aruna Upadhyay won with 31 votes defeating BJP's Shilpa Soni.
Interestingly, in the other 56 wards, the candidates lost by just one vote. Out of the remaining 56, 19 unlucky candidates are from BJP, 21 from Congress and 15 are independents.
Out of the 16 corporations which had a total of 884 wards, the BJP secured over 55% votes (491 wards), while the Congress secured 31% votes winning 274 wards, the remaining 109 were held by other parties and independents. Similarly, out of the 1795 wards across 76 municipalities, the saffron party won 54% votes or 975 wards while it won over 52% votes or 2002 wards of 3828 wards in the 255 councils.
This put the BJP in a comfortable position to elect a chairperson and establish its majority in close to 11 of the 16 corporations, 50 out of 76 municipalities and another 150 out of the 215 councils.
But it has lost mayoral seats in Morena, Jabalpur, Gwalior, Katni, Rewa, Singrauli and Chhindwara. It has won Dewas, Ratlam, Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa and Burhanpur in the Malwa-Nimar region where the BJP has a stronghold, Bhopal in central MP, Satna and Sagar in Vindhya and Bundelkhand region respectively.
It managed to retain Ujjain and Burhanpur with a narrow margin of 542 and 736 votes respectively. The vote margin of the BJP’s candidate in Ujjain increased only after recounting, in Burhanpur it won where the AIMIM’S candidate polled over 10,000 votes consequently damaging the Congress’s candidate.
The BJP faced its biggest setback in the Gwalior-Chambal region. The region is hailed as the bastion of the saffron party and is known to be the base of heavyweight BJP leaders like Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Jyotiraditya Scindia, State Home Minister Narottam Mishra and BJP State president VD Sharma. Morena- the parliamentary seat of BJP’s Tomar, Congress’ Sharad Solanki defeated BJP’s Meena Jatav with 14,631 votes. On top of this, the BJP lost Gwalior mayoral seat to Congress by a mammoth margin of 26,000 votes after nearly 57 years.
The BJP suffered another major blow in Katni, where its own rebel Preeti Suri contested the mayoral seat independently and defeated BJP’s Jyoti Dixit by 52,87 votes. After Suri announced to contest the mayoral seat, the disciplinary committee of the party suspended her for six years.
On the other hand, the Congress party has reasons to rejoice as it has won five of the 16 mayoral posts in corporations. This is a welcome relief as the party had lost all seats in the 2014 local body polls. It is also viewed as a major boost for the party’s morale- which took a significant hit after having lost its government in 2020 and its losses in the ensuing by-polls.
After the results, the State Congress president, Kamal Nath held a press conference at the party office in Bhopal and said, “Since 1999 when the mayors have been directly elected in MP, this year the performance of Congress has been the best."
He further explained that Congress had won two seats each in 1999 and 2004 while it won three seats in 2009 and none in 2014.
“It has been this year that the Congress has won five seats. The BJP won all seats in 2014 but has lost seven seats this year and yet they are celebrating,” said Nath.
On Wednesday evening, during a celebration event at the BJP headquarters, BJP state president Vishnu Dutt Sharma said that the party had won 24 of the 40 municipalities and 123 of the 169 municipal councils in the second phase.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the party will form councils even in the municipal corporations where the party's mayoral candidates lost and congratulated the party workers for the exemplary show and expressed gratitude to the people for their support in electing BJP councilors. He also said that the people had rejected the Congress party comprehensively.
AIMIM in charge of MP, Sayyed Minhajuddin said, “the results from Khargone where we won three wards are encouraging but the overall results are satisfactory. During our survey, we hoped to get more seats, but we had little time to prepare as the party had decided at the last moment to contest. It was also the first time we entered the poll fray in MP.”
After taking the total tally to 40 wards across MP, AAP’s MP President Pankaj Singh said, “apart from the 40 wards we won, our candidates lost on 100 wards with a very narrow margin. This was the first time we had contested in local body elections and the results are encouraging with our limited resources. We will work harder for the next assembly elections.”
Speaking to NewsClick, senior journalist NK Singh pointed out, "The Panchayat poll results is a matter to ponder for the BJP rather than to celebrate. The party has been in power for the last two decades and anti-incumbency is evident."
Cautioning the Congress, he further said, "the recent victory has boosted the morale of the opposition party but their overall performance is not satisfactory."
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