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Why BJP Lost Ground in Madhya Pradesh After 15 Years

Massive anti-incumbency and loan waiver promises by Congress led to a clear undercurrent in the grand old party’s favour, which has hugely improved its tally compared with the last three Assembly elections.
shivraj chouhan

Image Courtesy: National Herald

BHOPAL: As predicted, the results of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections show that the state’s voters have given a thumbs down to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with108 seats (till 7 p.m on Tuesday) against 165 seats in the last House. The Shivraj Chouhan-led BJP government had been in power since 2003 and had been facing public ire during the campaign.

The polling for the 230-member assembly seats of Madhya Pradesh was on November 28 and 74.85% votes had been recorded, according to the Madhya Pradesh Election Commission.

Madhya Pradesh has been a nursery of the BJP, where the party has won five Assembly elections till date. But the saffron party, which was in power for last three terms, has been facing anti-incumbency, farmers’ ire, unemployment, corruption charges, etc.

As NewsClick predicted, a 4% shift of votes to the Congress, would have overthrown the ruling BJP government out of the power in the state.

At the time of writing, Congress had got 41.3% vote share while BJP got 41.2%, a very close call. In the 2013 Assembly, the vote share was 42.5% and 44.87%, respectively.

Since 2003, this is the first time that the Congress has crossed the 100-mark in the Assembly election which was 38 in 2003, 71 in 2008 and 58 in 2013.




Results as per ECI at 5 pm

Reasons for BJP Losing Ground

In the previous election, the BJP won 165 seats and Congress 58 out of 230 constituency but this time the saffron party has failed to touch the magical mark of 116, because of massive anti-incumbency after 15 years of its rule and the undercurrent was seen in favour of Congress in every region, including Malwa, a BJP’s bastion.

Congress didn't have this undercurrent in its favour in 2008 and 2013 Assembly elections. Rather there was an undercurrent in favour of Modi-Shivraj particularly in 2013, said senior journalist SA Pateriya.

The second and most important reason is Congress President Rahul Gandhi's announcement of farm loan waiver within the 10 days of forming government. Since Madhya Pradesh is a farming-dominated state with 40-50% of the population dependent on farming. But, getting accurate minimum support price and heavy farm debt are still issues that matter, said senior journalist Ashutosh Shukla.

Congress’ farm loan wavier announcement, the BJP continuously rubbishing this scheme and adding in its manifesto, and later realising its mistake after cadre feedback did a lot of damage to the ruling party.

Also Watch: Revisiting Mandsaur: No Relief to Farmers Even After 17 Months 

Four days prior to polling, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, made an announcement that he would give enough money to farmers through government schemes to help them get rid of loan burden. But the announcement came too late and was not as lucrative as the Congress's direct loan waiver announcement.

Besides, demanding actual MSP and to implement the recommendation of Swaminathan Commission six farmers had been killed by the police in firing in Mandsaur on June 6, 2017 and the state government gave a clean chit to the police personnel who opened fire.

Also Read: Revisiting Mandsaur: 17 Months After the Protest, Nothing Changed, Say Farmers

In addition, Congress also promised at least one job to every family and unemployment allowance of Rs 10,000 at a time when unemployment is a big issue in the state. In comparison, BJP promised to create 50 lakh jobs in next five years, however, the state government only created 2.45 lakh jobs in last 15 years of rule. Unemployment of educated youth has risen by 23 lakh, according to the state government’s employment exchange data.

Also Read: Chouhan’s Promise to Generate 50 Lakh Jobs Rings Hollow: Oppn

Senior journalist ND Sharma thinks that BJP committed a mistake by launching a Samriddh Rath. “By launching the Rath, BJP itself, sent out a message that it could not make MP a prosperous state in last 15 years” he said.

Resentment among committed party workers in particular and people in general against a section of local leaders who amassed wealth in the past 15 years who flaunted their wealth, luxurious SUVs and bungalows, and were part of a nexus with corrupt contractors and officers are the other issues that went against BJP.

Besides, rebellion in the BJP was much higher this time in comparison to previous elections. There was no Anil Madhav Dave this time to address the problem and sort it out. There was no team of leaders to effectively control the situation arising from the statewide rebellion.

Above all, Chouhan’s remark on SC/ST Atrocities Act 'koi Mai ka lal aarkshan nahi chheen sakta' antagonised a section of upper caste BJP voters. To make matters worse, the central government got the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Bill passed in Parliament. This further antagonised upper, said veteran journalist LS Hardenia.

“Later, Chouhan tweeted that no arrest will be made before enquiry in the cases registered under Atrocities Act. This tweet added fuel to the fire and irked the Dalit community of the state which comprises 21% of the total population of the state,” said Hardenia.

Counting was still underway till the time of writing, with Congress and BJP going neck and neck, even as the Samajwadi Party, which was leading on two seats, announcing its support to the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party, leading on three seats, denying any coalition with the BJP. In this situation, Congress stands a better chance of forming the government.

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