Bhopal: The tantalisingly close call in Madhya Pradesh has baffled politicians and political observers alike.
The BJP failed to grab majority despite bagging .1% vote share more than the Congress which got 41% of the votes. The Congress, with help from BSP, SP and Independents, crossed the majority mark of 116, while the BJP managed 109 seats.
A closer look at the results reveals that None of the Above (NOTA) option may have dented BJP’s chances. In at least 11 seats where the Congress won, NOTA got more votes than the winning margin — Biaora, Damoh, Gunnor, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Jobat, Mandhata, Nepanagar, Rajnagar, Raipur and Suwasra. NOTA also polled more votes than the victory margin in Bina and Kolaras, where BJP candidates won. In seven of these 11 seats, the victory margin was less than 1,000 votes.
Outgoing chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also expressed disappointment with the incredibly close results. Addressing reporters after submitting his resignation to the Governor, he said, “In 2008, we secured 38% votes and won 143 seats. But this time we ended up with 109 seats despite securing more than 40% votes.”
Apart from NOTA, the Mayawati factor and the Upper Caste anger, too, played spoilsport for the BJP. In some constituencies, Upper Caste leaders urged people to choose NOTA as they were upset with the BJP and Congress stand on SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The final nail in the coffin was the Samanya Alpsankhyak Pichhra Kalyan Samaj (SAPAKS), which ate into the votes of both the national parties.
The SAPAKS blow was felt most in Ambah seat where its third gender candidate Neha finished second, pushing the BJP to the third spot. The BSP cut votes in Gwalior and Vindhya regions.
The 11 seats where NOTA helped Congress trump BJP are spread across the state, including in Bundelkhand, Mahakaushal, Gwalior and Malwa regions, indicating that besides caste sentiments, voters were unhappy with candidate selection as well.
Take Kalavati Bhuria, the niece of Congress veteran Kantilal Bhuria who was given ticket from Jobat where the local Congress unit was not pleased with her nomination. In Damoh, the BJP nominated outgoing state finance minister Jayant Malaiya and an anguished veteran, Ramkrishna Kusmaria, entered the poll fray as an Independent. Kusmaria polled more than 1,000 votes. As a result, Congress candidate Rahul Lodhi won by a mere 798 votes.
NOTA got 1.5% of the total vote share. The Samajwadi Party got 1.01% while AAP got 0.7% votes.