Madhya Pradesh Election Results: How the BJP decimated the Congress

Madhya Pradesh Election Results: How the BJP decimated the Congress

Dec 3, 2023 - 14:30
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Madhya Pradesh Election Results: How the BJP decimated the Congress

As the counting progresses in the states of Madhya Pradesh, the state is turning saffron. Workers and supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came out on the streets and began celebrating by dancing, and chanting slogans as trends predicted a comfortable win for the party.

Workers distributed sweets and chants of ‘Modi, Modi’ began ringing out loud.
According to the latest data, the BJP has scored 162 seats of the 230-seat Assembly. The Congress lags behind with 66 seats. With its numbers, the BJP has crossed the target of 116 to secure a win in the state. Incidentally, it’s way higher than the party’s performance in the previous polls – the BJP had won 109 seats then, with the Congress securing 114.

The possible win in the state is contrary to the exit polls, which had predicted a tight race and some even giving the Congress an outside chance at ousting the BJP from a state it has dominated since 2003. Four of nine exit polls had given the BJP a comfortable win; three gave it over 139 of the Assembly’s 230 seats.

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The BJP has won three of the past four elections – since Digvijaya Singh led the Congress to back-to-back wins in 1993 and 1998. Those wins were the last time the Congress defended the state.

Several BJP leaders themselves also celebrated the party’s anticipated win, with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan saying: “I had said the BJP will get a comfortable majority and we are getting it.”

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw also chimed in, saying: “This is a great victory for BJP in Madhya Pradesh. BJP government has done work, people have faith in the double-engine government, the leadership of PM Modi and the performance of CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. I congratulate everyone.”

As celebrations unfold, we decode the party’s win in the state and the possible reasons behind it.

Significance of Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for BJP’s anticipated victory in the state is Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Even though he hasn’t been the face of the party’s campaign this time around – there were fears that feelings of anti-incumbency would work against him – it’s hard to miss his importance for the party.

A four-time chief minister, Chouhan, popularly known as Mama, continued to work in the state and used his humble image to attract the voters. He was also unafraid of showcasing his emotions to the public – at times, he shed tears while seeking voters and at other times, he told voters they would miss him when “I am no longer around”.

Also read: Election Results 2023: Who’s leading, who’s trailing?

He also focused his campaigning on women; he was the star of his government’s ‘The Ladli Show’, where he took questions from girls. During an event in Burhanpur, he also washed the feet of two women, who then showered him with flower petals.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan with wife Sadhna Singh during ‘Kanya Puja’ in Bhopal. Chouhan focused on women throughout the elections. File image/PTI

And despite the in-fighting in the party, Chouhan persevered and unlike other leaders elsewhere, such as Vasundhara Raje, he kept his displeasure quiet and never once uttered or indicated his resentment towards the central leadership.

In fact, even at a time when the results indicated a win for the BJP, he credited it to Prime Minister Modi, rather himself. “Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji is in the hearts of the people of Madhya Pradesh. The state is also in the heart of Modi ji. There is immense faith towards him. He held public meetings here and appealed to the people which have touched the people’s hearts. Such trends are coming as a result of this,” he was quoted as saying, adding that the election campaign got the right direction due to the infallible strategy of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, guidance of BJP chief JP Nadda and other leaders and hard work of the party workers.

Women power

A big factor in BJP’s win in the state could be their focus on women voters. Women’s participation in the state has only risen with time. Data shows that the female voter turnout ratio in Madhya Pradesh was 65.9 per cent in the 2008 elections. This rose to 70.1 per cent in 2013, 74.0 per cent in 2018, and 76.0 per cent in the current Assembly elections.

Realising they are a crucial vote bank, the BJP began welfare schemes targeting them, in a bid to woo voters. There is the Ladli Behna scheme, initiated this year, which provides financial assistance worth Rs 1,000 per month to eligible married women aged between 23 and 60 years.

There’s also the Ladli Laxmi scheme, which was launched by Chouhan’s government in 2007. The policy mandates monetary assistance from the state for the education of girl child.

Women voters show their fingers marked with electoral ink after casting their votes at a polling booth during Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, in the outskirts of Bhopal. Women constitute a very important vote bank in the state. File image/PTI

Reacting to the results, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said “the schemes such as Ladli Behna and Ladli Laxmi have touched people’s hearts in Madhya Pradesh”.

Analysts believe that many may have feared that a change in the government in the state could pause or delay any future payments, and, therefore, didn’t vote for the Congress.

Congress failed to sustain lead

Apart from Chouhan’s influence and the welfare schemes, many analysts note that the Congress once again failed to capitalise on the anti-incumbency feeling. The Grand Old Party was also unable to make the final push.

A BJP functionary explained to Indian Express, “On the day of polling, we had 90 per cent of our booth committees functioning at 8.30 am while the Congress was scrambling to get their booths set even by 9.30 am. The high percentage of voter turnout in the first half itself happened because of our mobilisation.”

Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath during his election campaign for Assembly polls, in Chhindwara. The Congress was unable to capitalise on the anti-incumbency in the state. File image/PTI

Many poll pundits also noted that the Congress was unable to sustain their own campaign with strong messaging.

Among the Congress there’s also a belief that the bashing of Sanatan Dharma could have played a role in their loss. Congress’ Acharya Pramod Krishnam said that opposing Sanatan Dharma sunk his party.

With inputs from agencies

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