It is time for a tough battle to be fought in the Centre of the country in 2018.
Who will be the next CM? Will Congress finally be able to rule or will BJP retain the seat for the 4th consecutive time? Elections in Madhya Pradesh this time is going to revolve around these two parties only that is a given. While SP and BSP might look to enter into a battleground, it will do so only with a very small share or will boost the fortune of Congress party by allying with them. Let’s try to find out which party will win the Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018?
The Mungaoli and Kolaras by-elections showed a poor performance by the ruling BJP government. The Indian National Congress managed to retain its seat in the two constituencies. Despite the discourse of development it portrays and the fact that they have been ruling the state for the past 15 years now, the BJP couldn’t snatch the seats from the Congress. Their loss is a major setback for the party, for it seems like a mirror to the elections to be held later this year. While it didn’t look good for the BJP, the by-elections were worrisome for the Congress as well as they have won the seats only with a slim margin unlike their performance in the 2013 elections where they had a comfortable win over the BJP in these two seats.
Let us look at a little analysis of the scenario prevailing in Madhya Pradesh.
Will Congress be able to win Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018 –
The Congress though seems to have performed well in the elections across this year – a big by poll win in Rajasthan and a good performance in Gujarat plus the fact that it managed to retain its seats in MP. That is true, but this is not the ideal scene in Madhya Pradesh especially for a party which wants to rule. According to election analysis by Economic times, the Congress was able to snatch only 2 of the 6 by-poll seats from BJP since 2014 – Bahoriband Assembly seat in 2014 and Ratlam Constituency seat in 2015 while BJP out of its 9 by poll wins snatched two from the Congress. The battle for Madhya Pradesh seems tough with Congress trying to play hard to come into power by re-arranging its unit while the BJP is also fighting hard to hold on to their state with the decreasing influence of BJP wave in the states. The SP will also contest the elections in MP this time and one might see an alliance between the SP and the Congress sometime in the future or an alliance with the BJP.
Scheduled to be held in November, the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections for 2018 are a significant part of the Indian democracy as the state sends 29 members to Lok Sabha and 11 members to Rajya Sabha to represent the State in the Parliament. Shivraj Singh Chouhan has held the position of the CM since 2005 earlier held by Uma Bharti in 2003 followed by Babulal Gaur. In the last elections held in 2013, the BJP won with 165 seats while the Congress followed with only 58 seats. The win for BJP was predicted by a majority of the poll surveys then. MP is considered one of the strongest centers of the BJP and the BJP will try hard to retain that.
Here you can read on Can Congress Win The Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018?
How is Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s tenure?
BJP’s rule in the state seems to have done some good for the people. The state has come a long way from being a part of the BIMARU states, it has attained much progress and is on the right track of development. Much of the development which the state has achieved – surplus power, a huge growth in the private sector as well as better education and improvement in health care have been attributed to the Shivraj Singh government. Many schemes in the agricultural sector are being run by the government. The MP government claims to have attained double-digit growth rate. The Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana is the government’s trump card. Under the scheme, the difference between the market price which is to be determined by the government and the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of the crops will be deposited directly into the accounts of 16 lakh farmers who have registered. This is the first time that such an exercise has been implemented in the country.
But, the situation on the ground is different and this might tarnish the image of the BJP leading to a loss in a few seats. Facing an anti-incumbency wave against his government after three full terms, the Shivraj Singh government is facing critical issues this time around.
Farm distress has been a real issue in the state which claims to be farmer friendly. This is supported by NCRB data which saw a 21% increase in farmer suicides between 2014 -2016 when there was a decrease in the rest of the country. The Mandsaur firing a year ago is also an example of the atrocities against the farmers. Farmers point out that the Bhavantar Yojana too has been benefiting only the traders and not them which are serious issues at the ground level. The BJP has not done much for the Dalits as well as the Adivasis with many incidents rocking the state.
While the BJP has taken a U-turn to consider B R Ambedkar as one of their leaders, the situation in Madhya Pradesh in relation to the Adivasis is bad. NCRB report shows that Madhya Pradesh has been in the list of atrocities committed against the Dalits consistently since the BJP came to power although the situation was not different in the Congress rule as well. The government’s failure to deliver on the promises made to the people has caused a complex situation for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh.
Infrastructure in the urban and semi-urban areas have improved but the rural areas still suffer from under development. The Vyapam Scandal too in 2013 dealt a huge blow to the image of the BJP only among the educated middle class who understand these issues, the share of which is less than the others.
But, the heat which the party is facing for the violence towards Dalits and distress among the farmers is not a huge cause of worry for Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a popular face in MP. BJP has thrived on the popularity of its leaders from Uma Bharti to Chouhan. This coupled with the fact that the Congress leaders of the state do not boost the image of the party and do not have a connect with the masses. It is these factors that will probably enable the BJP to secure the votes to win though with a lesser margin despite the controversies that rocked his government in the last three years in the 2018 elections.
Here you can read on Can BJP Win The Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections 2018?
Is there hope for Congress?
The Congress has not learnt from its past election performances of an image overhaul this time around too. The last time Congress won in Madhya Pradesh was in 1998 when Digvijaya Singh was the Chief Minister. The BJP came into power precisely because of the ineffective rule of the Congress, maladministration, and failure in governance. The Chief ministerial candidate projected by the party is Jyotiraditya Scindia who is not popular among the masses. He does not hold as much fort as Shivraj Singh Chouhan does and the strategy of pitting him against Chouhan might not work for the Congress.
Digvijaya Singh is himself to be blamed for ruining his image for the controversies generated during his regime as well as after that. The other leader is Kamal Nath who again is not very popular for his work among the people of Madhya Pradesh. Thus, even though the three leaders have come together, they do not enjoy the popularity which will help them to take their party to victory unless there is some miracle.
Despite, the reorganisation of the Congress Committee in the State with Kamal Nath taking over as the President of the MP Congress Committee and Jyotiraditya Scindia as the head of the campaign, the Congress is yet to reach the level of the BJP. It is seen to be in a bad shape. There might be a few gains from the mistakes which the ruling party has committed or the growing anti-incumbency sentiment against the government. Another factor that could help is allying with SP or BSP, but the gains arising out of these factors might not be significant to ensure a major win for the party. But, if they do not form an alliance the battle might become tough for the Congress.
What does the Ground Scenario say?
6% Brahmins of the state who wield tremendous influence over the other castes are adequately represented in the BJP government in education and government sectors. This time around the BJP also seeks to woo the Muslim voters. Shivraj Singh Chouhan is seen as a moderate person who shares a good relationship with the Muslims (read as a minority). These two major groups are completely sidelined by the Congress who have given representation to the SCs, STs and the OBCs in the party. There is high chance that this strategy could backfire on them.
The pre-poll analysis by ABP-CSDS in the ‘Mood of the Nation Survey’ in the last month of May projected a Congress win if the elections were conducted at that time. This survey has shaken the BJP government there who is trying to look into ways to salvage the situation while the Congress is seeming to realize the significance of allying with other parties especially after the Karnataka win.
Latest Madhya Pradesh Election Survey –
Another survey in the month of April by the Dainik Bhaskar group projects a huge BJP win this time around too with almost the same vote share as in the 2013 elections.
Thus, it is to be seen what the future of Madhya Pradesh holds while the elections draw closer. Unlike the last time when the majority pre-poll surveys projected a BJP win, this time it’s not that easy. The vote is divided as to who will win it this time. The present CM is confident of winning the elections based on his work and his image this time while the Congress has changed its strategy to gain power after a long period. It’s a close battle from what one can see.