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Posted at: Mar 14, 2019, 7:04 AM; last updated: Mar 14, 2019, 7:04 AM (IST)

Cong a formidable challenger in MP

Voting pattern suggests BJP may lose more than 10 seats in General Election
Cong a formidable challenger in MP
Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath with former BSP leaders who recently joined Congress, in Bhopal. PTI

Anup Datta
Tribune News Service
Bhopal, March 13

The emergence of the Congress in BJP stronghold Madhya Pradesh in the yearend Assembly elections has not only dented the saffron party’s morale, but there is also a real possibility of the BJP losing nearly a dozen seats in the General Election.

In 2014, the BJP won 27 of the 29 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The BJP’s nationwide Modi wave helped the party win 10 seats more from the previous Lok Sabha elections.

The Modi wave and the Hindutva politics had a powerful impact in several regions of the state. The BJP won all four Lok Sabha seats in the Bundelkhand region, all five seats in the central region and two seats in the Nimad region.

In the Baghelkhand region, the BJP won three of the four seats, while one went to the Congress. The BJP won three of the four seats in the Chambal region and the Congress won one. The voting circle pattern due to BJP’s managerial skills surprised everyone. The BJP secured a 54% vote share in the state, which is the highest ever by any party in MP. The saffron party exceptionally did well both in rural and urban areas.

According to the Election Commission details, the BJP secured 67 per cent votes of Other Backward Classes (OBC), which is numerically the biggest social group in the state, while 19 per cent of them voted for the Congress.

The iron grip of the RSS and BJP even managed to capture the Dalit vote, considered to be the second biggest social group after the OBC. The Dalit vote was almost equally split between the BJP and Congress. The post-poll data showed that the Brahmin and Rajput communities showed higher preference towards the BJP in MP where politics has never changed from bipolar to unipolar.

As a result, several Congress stalwarts were swept away by the Modi wave. Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s close confidante Meenakshi Natrajan, former Union Minister Arun Yadav, former MP Assembly Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh ‘Rahul Bhaiyaa’, known lawyer and son of former High Court Judge Vivek Tankha lost in the Lok Sabha elections.

In between 2017 and 2018, a year ahead of the Assembly elections, five byelections were held in the state and the Congress won four of the five seats. The Congress managed to end the 15-year rule of the BJP in MP in the Assembly elections, by denting the image of BJP’s poster boy Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

As a result, the Congress secured 40.9% of the vote share, despite winning 114 seats against 41% for the BJP, which bagged 109 seats. Close difference of votes between the two parties shows that the BJP is still very much a challenger, and can definitely not be ruled out. However, the voting pattern suggested that the BJP may end up losing at least 10 Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming elections.

2014 results 
Total seats 29: BJP: 27 Congress: 2
Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia managed to retain their home turf — Chhindwara and Guna Lok Sabha seats

Current status 
Total seats 29: BJP: 26 Congress: 3
In 2015 bypoll, the Congress won the Ratlam Lok Sabha seat, necessitated after the death of BJP MP Dilip Singh Bhuriya

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