New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party is battling the twin effects of a 15-year anti-incumbency factor and discontent among farmers to retain power in Madhya Pradesh, but interestingly the saffron party has taken an edge over the Congress in the hotspot for farm unrest, Mandsaur.

According to data from the Election Commission of India, till 3.15 pm on Tuesday, the BJP is leading in 106 of the 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh, while the Congress is leading in 113 seats. However, in Mandsaur district, which has four assembly seats, the BJP has taken a comfortable lead over the Congress in two seats.

Last June, Mandsaur became the symbol of farmer angst for the entire country after a protest demanding better crop prices turned violent and five agitating farmers were killed in police firing. The incident prompted Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan to announce a generous compensation package for families of deceased farmers, followed by a new price support scheme for pulses and oilseeds.

In Mandsaur’s Malhargarh assembly seat, where the farmers were shot by the police, the BJP’s Jagdish Dewda, a former home minister, is leading by 11,000 votes. In the Mandsaur assembly seat, the BJP candidate is leading by close to 10,000 votes. In Garoth, the Congress is leading by less than 800 votes, while in Suwasra the Congress has a lead of just 886 votes.

In the 2013 election BJP had won three of the four assembly seats in Mandsaur district.

Local farmer leaders are dismayed by the trends. “We were hoping farmers in Mandsaur will come down heavily against the BJP and its mishandling of the agriculture sector. The trends show that our agitations did not convert into electoral losses for the BJP," said Amrit Ram Patidar, a prominent leader of the Mandsaur agitation.

Also read: Farmers on a short fuse in election-bound Madhya Pradesh

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