While the soaring 76 per cent or highest ever voter turnout in the recently concluded Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, which is an almost 3.5 per cent increase from 2013, has triggered Congress’s anticipation of a strong anti-incumbency vote alike 2003 that pushed Congress away from power, political analysts and many Exit Polls have postulated a thin margin win for the ruling party.
Madhya Pradesh is one of the largest states in India and the state contributes 29 Lok Sabha members. This poll result is also supposed to shape the future trajectories of both the national parties. Hence, after winning the Karnataka Assembly polls and increasing seat share in the Gujarat Assembly polls, Madhya Pradesh is considered crucial for Congress before the 2019 general elections.
Congress candidate Harish Tularam Beman (Mehra) asserted, “BJP will lose and Congress will form the government in Madhya Pradesh this time. EVMs were intentionally malfunctioned and we have full faith in the Election Commission. The vote has been impartial and we hope this continues in the future.”
“The increased voter turnout definitely indicates that people have voted against the existing government. People were not satisfied with the government and everyone wanted a change in the power corridor,” he added.
Incumbent Chief Minister of the State Shivraj Singh Chouhan in his 15 years of power has been a popular face in terms of governance. However, its last term was mostly about facing anti-incumbency. With the majority of lawmakers both in the State and Centre, voters’ sentiments against his government got intensified with the BJP coming in power at the Centre.
On the Election Day, around three hours during the assembly polls, Congress started demanding re-polling for few seats as complaints started pouring regarding malfunctioning EVMs. Moreover, reports too showed that the Election Commission across the state had to replace hundreds of EVMs and voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines and that led to hours of delay in conducting the poll. However, Shivraj Singh Chouhan attacked Congress for the same calling it as their excuse being prepared for defeat in the polls.
BJP’s national vice-president, Prabhat Jha, who handled the campaign closely for the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, spoke to AV and said, “I hope that we shall get a comfortable majority in the state. I don’t know what the Exit Polls or political analysts say, but we politicians know each and everything that happened in Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections and hope to get a good majority here.”
The good voter turnout this time is being compared to the 2003 assembly polls of the state when the voter turnout too saw a 7 per cent jump and marked 72.13 per cent. Similar to the present situation, then CM Digvijaya Singh too was facing strong anti-incumbency wave after being into the power for 10 long years. He was dethroned in the 2003 polls. Although BJP is keeping calm explaining the rich poll turnout as the voter mobilisation by RSS, the other side or Congress is really hopeful of their sweeping victory. Encouraging the mood, many senior party leaders too have appreciated how Congress this time has remained focussed and efficiently and smartly led their election campaigns instead mud-slinging at own party members. However, the question that strikes the mind is, talking about the failed Mahagathbandhan attempt between Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party, will the lack of alliance cost Congress the golden opportunity this time?
BSP leader Pradeep Narayan stated, “BJP is not winning this election with a majority and will not win more than 95-96 seats.
The increasing voter turnout in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections indicates that BJP is going to be overthrown and BSP will definitely form a government on its own. If we don’t get a majority, no one else will! No other party will be able to form the government without Bahujan Samaj Party.”
Asked about if the unsuccessful alliance attempt with Congress can affect the mandate, he said, “About Mahagathbandhan, our party leader Mayawati has already said that BSP was ready to ally but unfortunately the Congress party leader Digvijay Singh alleged that Mayawati is under pressure because of CBI.”
Against the ongoing negative sentiments around the present governance, this election is also a significant one for the BJP and as per the analysts, if they manage to win, it will only strengthen CM Chouhan’s political and governing eminence and revitalise BJP for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. There’s also another group of political scrutinisers who are paying no attention to the possibility of a change of government this time. According to them, this jump of polling turnout neither signifies anti-incumbency nor that taxpayers’ sentiments were against the Opposition. Whatsoever the surveys say, whose fate will see the political shine will only be certainly said when the results will be announced on December 11.