Decode politics: As dust settles, here is 5 reasons why BJP won MP, and Cong lost plot | Political Pulse News


The BJP routed the Congress in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections, winning 163 of the 230 seats, while the grand old party, which was hoping to cash in on an almost two-decade anti-incumbency, was reduced to just 66.

The Congress, which quickly blamed EVM tampering as one of the reasons for its loss, was stunned by the results as the BJP almost replicated its 2013 Assembly election performance when the party had won 165 seats when, too, Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the Chief Minister.

As the Congress does its post-mortem, here are five possible reasons the BJP stole a march:

Welfare schemes

The most significant reason for the BJP’s victory was the Chouhan government’s string of welfare schemes, targeting the poorest. The party calls the Ladli Behna Yojana, for one, as a “game changer”. Post the victory, Chouhan was blessed with some such women beneficiaries and said, “Ladli behnon ne saare kaante nikal diye (The ladli behnas have removed all obstacles).”

Launched in March this year, the scheme initially offered a monthly stipend of Rs 1,000 to women aged between 23 and 60 in households with an annual income of less than Rs 2.5 lakh. As the polls drew closer, the minimum age was reduced to 21 while the stipend was raised to Rs 1,250 per month. More than 1.2 crore women in the state have got the benefit of the scheme, for which an amount of Rs 13,000 crore has been allocated.

Festive offer

Chouhan’s trust that the state’s 2.67 crore women, or 48% of the state’s 5.52 crore electorate, will deliver the state for the BJP again was proved true. Women outnumbered men in at least 18 of the 230 Assembly seats, including in tribal-dominated areas like Balaghat, Mandla, Dindori, and Jhabua.

When the Congress tried to match Chouhan by promising to provide Rs 1,500 as stipend to women, the CM unveiled other promises such as 35% reservation for women in government jobs. This played well into the BJP’s narrative, especially against the backdrop of the Centre passing the women’s reservation Act.

Ticket distribution

While both parties saw the usual protests over ticket distribution, the BJP put in all its resources led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to firefight the situation; no such effort was seen in the Congress.

It was Shah’s idea to announce the first list of candidates in August, three months before the elections. The 39 seats announced in this list were presumed Congress strongholds, and expected to have multiple aspirants from within the party. The BJP thus got enough time to calm dissidence down in these seats, and ended up winning 24 of the 39 constituencies.

The Congress, in contrast, announced its first list in October on considerably “safe” seats. The list of candidates for “difficult” seats was announced much closer to the elections, giving party heavyweights Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh little to no time for damage control. As protests erupted, the party was forced to change 7 candidates, 6 of whom lost. Of the 85 sitting MLAs that the party fielded, 60 lost the election.

Insiders say poor ticket distribution cost the Congress around 20-25 seats. The party may have lost another 27 seats due to the split of votes by third parties like the BSP, SP, Gondwana Gantantra Party and Independents.

Collective leadership

While the BJP went into the election without projecting a CM face and fielded a host of party bigwigs – Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Prahlad Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste; national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya; and four sitting Lok Sabha MPs – the Congress relied on Nath and Singh.

Fielding bigwigs enabled the BJP to project multiple CM faces, and what was initially seen as a drawback was turned by the party into an effective tool to battle 20-year anti-incumbency. It also left Chouhan free to tour the state instead of remaining restricted to “difficult” areas.

Consequently, the BJP won back the strongholds it had lost in 2018. In Vindhya Pradesh, the party won 25 of the 30 seats while in Mahakoshal, considered a Congress turf, it won 21 of the 20 seats. In the bellwether region of Malwa-Nimar, the BJP won 48 of 66 seats. It retained its stronghold of Bundelkhand, winning 21 of 26 seats, while it held on to 18 of 34 seats in the Gwalior-Chambal region.

In contrast, Nath and Singh did not involve the Congress central leadership in the campaign. Nath, whose aides prevailed in ticket distribution, largely made decisions and took over election management. Singh’s aides, meanwhile, chose not to speak at rallies as Nath took centre stage.

Nath and Singh – both in their 70s – as the faces of the party were in stark contrast to 2018, when Jyotiraditya Scindia, who crossed over to the BJP, connected with the youth.

Tribal and Dalit vote bank

In the run-up to the elections, the BJP focused on 82 seats where the tribal and Dalit votes held sway. It won 24 of the 47 ST-reserved seats, and 26 of the 35 SC-reserved seats.

But the BJP effort to woo the 21% tribals in the state began even earlier, ever since the Congress government won three years ago. During the last leg of the campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extensively toured tribal-dominated districts and also announced the Rs 24,000 crore development mission for Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

The BJP has also been grandly celebrating birth anniversaries of tribal icons like Rani Durgavati while the state government has renamed universities and railway stations after tribal icons.

Development projects like water connections for irrigation and making tribal communities aware about the implementation of the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) or PESA Act were given an aggressive push in the Chouhan government.

Contrary to the BJP’s approach, the Congress only made a promise of Rs 4,000 per bag of tendu leaf procured and accused the BJP of being anti-tribal while recalling past instances of atrocities on tribals.

In areas with a dominant Scheduled Caste (SC) population, the BJP outdid the Congress with Modi visiting Sagar twice. He also inaugurated a Rs 100 crore Sant Ravidas temple.

The Congress, however, harped on the caste census even as its party workers were unable to effectively communicate its benefits to people on the ground, insiders said.

The BJP had lost a significant chunk of SC votes in 2018 following protests over the dilution of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act after seven people lost their lives in violence that erupted in Bhind, Gwalior, and Morena districts. BJP leaders said this was not a factor any more and this helped the ruling party retain its influence in these pockets.

Election management

Shah gave the party’s 40 lakh booth-level workers a target of securing 52% votes in each booth. To ensure this was met, the BJP formed booth-level committees in 96% of the state’s booths, where focus was laid on Dalit and tribal communities. The state leadership was in constant contact with many leaders of booth committees.

The party also focused on booth expansion programmes and ideological training of its cadre. It used the database of beneficiaries to target voters with booth-level workers. The booth-level workers also ensured high turnout of BJP supporters on polling day.

Congress insiders said the party had foundered in its organisation and, in most BJP strongholds, the party was “missing due to lack of resources and sloppy election management”.

The failure of booth-level management was also raised in the Congress Legislature Party meeting held after the party’s poll drubbing.


Mohd Aman

Editor in Chief Approved by Indian Government

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