Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Opinion | It is difficult to predict the poll outcome in MP

MP can witness a thinner winning margin (below 50,000) at most places unlike 2014 poll

Madhya Pradesh has come to be identified as a stronghold of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), though the Congress has not been decimated in the state. The fortunes of one party is almost inversely proportional to the performance of the other, as Madhya Pradesh is a bipolar state. From 1996 to 2014, the BJP bagged the majority of the Lok Sabha seats in all the elections with a large number of seats, except for 2009 when the Congress got 12 seats out of the 29 in the state. Nevertheless, the present Lok Sabha elections have a special significance as they are being held against the background of the 2018 assembly elections when the Congress ousted the BJP after 15 years.

The people this time have not been very vociferous and therefore, it is difficult to gauge the mood of the electorate to make any prediction about the outcome. The BJP had swept the 2014 election by winning 27 of the 29 seats in the state and had garnered a huge lead of 20% of the votes cast. Only two stalwarts of the Congress could retain their seats. It was an election where there was a Modi wave and extraordinary anti-incumbency against the incumbent government and was also held against the backdrop of the 2013 assembly elections in which the BJP did exceedingly well and got a mandate for the third consecutive term.

The BJP’s campaign strategy this time has been to showcase the achievements of the national government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, particularly national security and major welfare schemes. The announcement of the NYAY scheme by the Congress to lure the farming society could be termed as a big attempt to engage a sizeable electorate as Congress has recently already got a benefit of farm loan waiver announcement in the assembly elections of 2018.

This election has also observed a very aggressive and unpleasant campaign. Out of 26 sitting MPs of BJP, 14 were denied party tickets due to adverse internal reports and other considerations. Congress fielded many new faces and as usual there were many aspirants for the party tickets in both the major political parties. Also, many of the sitting MPs of BJP who were denied tickets have shown their displeasure in public. Although it does not work much in Lok Sabha election but in close contests, sabotage can adversely affect party prospects.

Madhya Pradesh is predominantly a rural state according to traditional wisdom, support for Congress lies in the rural areas. Assembly election 2018 is indicative of the fact that the Congress has clearly regained domination in rural areas, however, it is to be seen whether this momentum remains intact or it goes in favour of BJP.

BJP has a strong history of high performance in Madhya Pradesh since 1991 and the only exception was 2009 when the seat tally and vote percentage difference was close between both the major political parties. It seems through ground swelling, tone and tenor, pace and atmosphere that it can be a repeat of 2009 in Madhya Pradesh both in terms of vote share and seat tally. Keeping in view the nature of contest, there is a huge likeliness that the results in Madhya Pradesh can witness a thinner winning margin (below 50,000) at most places unlike 2014 elections. The results of MP will be definitely decisive for the seat tally of both NDA and UPA.

Yatindra Singh Sisodia is director at Madhya Pradesh Institute of Social Science Research, Ujjain, and a political analyst.