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5-min read

Who Has the Edge in MP? Higher Vote Percentage May Mean Anti-incumbency But There's a Catch

Amid uncertainty over the poll outcome one thing was certain that results were sure to bring in some surprises for the central India state and New Delhi as well.

Vivek Trivedi | News18

Updated:December 11, 2018, 7:47 AM IST
Who Has the Edge in MP? Higher Vote Percentage May Mean Anti-incumbency But There's a Catch
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan votes along with his family at Jait village in Bhopal on Nov 28, 2018. (Image: PTI)

Bhopal: It was termed a silent poll, with no prominent wave neither against the BJP state government nor in favour of the Congress.

The upward voter turnout swing of around 3% has also left many guessing about its possible impact on the eventual outcome on Tuesday. Traditionally, the higher voting percentage suggests a mark of anti-incumbency, but contrary to this perception the BJP in the past has returned to power with a higher poll percentage in MP.

Since 1998, the polling percentage has gradually increased from 60.22% in 1998, 67.25% in 2003, 69% in 2008 and 72.13% in 2013. However, except for 2003, when the polling brought a decisive mandate against the ruling Congress, the BJP has gained every time the poll percentage increased over the years. As a 7% voting swing had brought about change of government in MP in 2003 as compared to 1998, a meagre 3% poll surge (when added postal ballots) hardly signifies anything. The MP reported poll percentage of 74.85% as compared to 72.13% in 2013.

MPCC president Kamal Nath went public with his views right after the polling, suggesting a “very surprising result” in the offing and getting more than 140 seats. The halfway mark to form the government is the state is 115. No one from the BJP has made public claims on massive win which was their agenda prior to polls.

Congress co-ordination committee chairman Digvijaya Singh tweeted this morning. “IF the almighty wishes, we would form the government.”

Later speaking to News18, Singh exhibited more conviction when he said the Congress was definitely forming the next government.

Senior Congress leader Kantilal Bhuria also appeared before media on Thursday and claimed a Congress government with 150 seats.

On the other side, BJP state president Rakesh was certain of a fourth consecutive win. “People came out and voted in large numbers as they feared the Congress could snatch power,” Singh told News18 on the high poll turnout. He accused the Congress of raking up the EVM issue in a bid to prepare for an excuse if they happen to lose.

However, it was a general perception that the BJP camp isn’t as confident as it was ahead of polling when it chanted Abki Baar-200 Paar slogan.

Though Chouhan is fighting a strong anti-incumbency, he is banking on a host of welfare schemes to get him across the finish line. Schemes like Sambal Yojana, which offers social security to the poor, and PM Housing Scheme, the BJP hopes, will boost its chances. CM Shivraj has struck a chord with the masses with his populist schemes, say, Ladli Laxmi Yojana, Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojana, Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana, among others.

Chouhan has not only helped the BJP win the 2008 and 2013 Assembly polls, but also kept the party flag flying in most of the civic and rural body polls in 13 years of his rule. Shivraj is popularly known as “mama”.

Though scams like Vyapam have brought a bad name to Shivraj Singh government.

An open rebellion in the party post ticket distribution has jeopardized the BJP’s poll prospects. Also, resentment from upper castes over quota issue is likely to have an impact in areas such as Gwalior-Chambal and Vindhya. The trader and business community, the core vote bank of the BJP, is also upset over the hardship they faced because of the GST.

As the rich farmers gained from CM Shivraj policies, Bhavantar Bhugtan and crop insurance turned out to be a damp squib for small and marginal farmers.

Political analysts believe the BJP managed to keep its sway intact in urban pockets, but anti-incumbency crept in rural areas which saw heavy voter turnout and could benefit the Congress. However, a trend could deflate this claim as last time also the rural pockets had voted in huge numbers.

Anti-incumbency, farm distress and unrest over Mandsaur killings and public resentment against bureaucracy and not so popular MLAs are some of the factors which could work for the Congress, which played the masterstroke of farm loan waiver, a major demand from farmers’ groups in last couple of years.

Talking about an internal rift, the Congress too had to face it but it was far less than what the BJP encountered. It’s also true that the Congress failed to arouse any major anguish against the BJP government in its campaigns revolving around Vyapam scam, e-tendering scam, illegal mining, plight of river Narmada, non-performance of BJP MLAs and unsafe women.

The betting circles too sense a close fight in the state.

The voters too have decided not to drop hints when it comes to their choice of who should be in power for the next five years. The political analysts also seem divided on the post polling trends.

“Kamal Nath hurriedly conducting press briefings, Jyotiraditya Scindia writing to the EC over the EVM issue and Digvijaya Singh tweeting on possible government formation could be interpreted either way: it could be a sign of confidence or nervousness of defeat,” said senior political analyst Girija Shankar.

On the other hand, the BJP has kept a low profile, he added.

Hinting a slight edge in favour of the BJP, he based his assumption on the fact that the Congress failed to build an impactful narrative against CM Shivraj and failed to cash in on whatever public anger was there. “A meagre poll surge of 2.5 % as compared to 2013 seems insignificant.”

Senior journalist and political author Rasheed Kidwai differed saying the surge in voter turnout suggested that people expressed anger against the party which is ruling the state for 15 years and also is in power at the Centre. There was Narendra Modi’s name around 2013 to boost the BJP, but this time they had nothing which could create an atmosphere in their favour, he claimed.

There were a number of issues against the BJP government, including farm unrest, anger against MLAs, anti-incumbency and so on, but the BJP only had a positive in CM Shivraj’s image to bank upon, he opined giving an edge to the Congress.

Amid uncertainty over the poll outcome one thing was certain that results were sure to bring in some surprises for the central India state and New Delhi as well.

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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