Madhya Pradesh is the next state up for assembly elections as the Congress and BJP fight it out. However, the BSP and Mayawati along with the Samajwadi Party and Akhilesh Yadav might have something to say for who forms the government as they don’t expect a definitive verdict as voters go to the polls next week.History A 230 member assembly is up for grabs and the last time assembly elections took place here, in 2013, the BJP cruised to victory earning more than 160 seats, with the Congress able to get only 58. In 1993, when the state wasn’t divided, the Congress won a relatively comfortable victory over the incumbent BJP winning 174 seats in the then 320 member house. It chose then state chief Digvijaya Singh to be the Chief Minister. However, in 2003, the party were routed and won only 38 seats.
The Prime Minister also lauded the efforts of the Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan. He had a rocky start to campaigning in the past couple of weeks as jostling over distribution of tickets to candidates proved difficult. He does face some headwinds as the state economy has failed to keep up with the country’s’ during his tenure; owing to the agricultural sector which has performed poorly in the state. This has led to unrest among farmers and anger towards the state government.
Rahul has developed Modi phobia. He keeps on saying Modi, Modi in his speeches. Rahul wants to remove Modi, while we want to remove poverty, unemployment and illiteracy from the country: BJP President Amit Shah in Narsinghpur. #MadhyaPradesh pic.twitter.com/QH4AkgW2Kl— ANI (@ANI) November 19, 2018
The state also has a considerable upper and other backward caste population. The decision by the party to disavow the Supreme Court order that prevented immediate arrest in cases registered under the SC/ST Act could prove to be a deciding factor. Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav Mayawati and her party the BSP have stated their intentions ahead of next week’s assembly elections. The Madhya Pradesh head of the BSP Pradeep Ahirwar has predicted it will win 32 seats this time around, which would be a vast improvement from 4 in 2013. They did not align with the Congress prior to the polls and don’t have plans to but are confident of an alliance post election according to Ahirwar who said in part, “Neither the BJP nor the Congress is going to get a majority. In this case, the Congress would support us to form the government in Madhya Pradesh”. Another factor in the state is the Samajwadi Party and its President Akhilesh Yadav. He blamed the Congress for not forging an anti-BJP alliance in Madhya Pradesh ahead of the polls. He said in part, “This is good that there is no alliance in MP with the Congress. Now we can speak against them and expose their weaknesses”. The party is contesting 51 seats in the state and has promised a full loan waiver, setting up a fund for farmers, free laptops for class 10 and 12 students among others. The plight of farmers, which has been a long drawn out problem for the BJP, not only in Madhya Pradesh might prove to be a challenge in an election that is looking close. The Congress would do well to capitalise on this and work with other parties to help form a united front.
In Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Chouhan factor definitely bigger than Modi across cross-section of voters. Much unlike elections in UP, Tripura etc where the Modi factor dominated. It is Chouhan whom the BJP might need to rely on for final push.— Ruhi Tewari (@RuhiTewari) November 18, 2018
More columns by Varun Sukumar