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On eve of Madhya Pradesh poll results, BJP and Congress make tall claims about their prospects


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BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya claimed he sees his party winning 150 seats, while former CM Digvijaya Singh of the Congress claimed his party would win at least 130 seats. BHOPAL: After a war of words over the exit polls, the ruling BJP and opposition Congress are now engaged in making tall claims about their prospects on the eve of the counting of votes polled during the November 17 Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. In Indore, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya claimed that after touring 103 out of the 230 seats, he sees the BJP winning 150 seats and forming the next government with an impressive majority. On the other hand, former CM and Congress MP Digvijaya Singh exuded confidence about the Congress going on to win at least 130 seats and forming the next government comfortably. Vijayvargiya also added that on coming to power, the decision on the CM will be made by the BJP top brass in Delhi. “The legislature party will elect the leader in Bhopal, while the final seal of approval will be put by the party’s parliamentary board in Delhi.” Vijayvargiya, importantly, is among the eight BJP heavyweights, who were fielded as candidates in the November 17 assembly polls with the objective of not only winning the seats from where they were fielded, but also rubbing off their influence on other seats of their respective regions. But barring Union minister Prahlad Singh Patel (Narsinghpur), Narendra Singh Tomar (Dimani) and Kailash Vijayvargiya (Indore-1), the other five heavyweights – Union minister Faggan Singh Kulaste (Niwas-ST) and MPs Riti Pathak (Sidhi), Ganesh Singh (Satna), Rakesh Singh (Jabalpur West) and Rao Udai Pratap Singh (Gadarwara) – were largely stuck in their own seats owing to tough battle there. If informed sources on the ground are to be believed, four to five of these heavyweights are caught up in toughest of poll battles. On the other hand, at least 14 ministers of the present government, including five Jyotiraditya Scindia-loyalists and five senior Congress leaders, among them Kamal Nath’s loyalists Sajjan Singh Verma and Bala Bachchan, Jitu Patwari, ex-Vidhan Sabha speaker NP Prajapati and leader of opposition Dr Govind Singh, too are believed to be on a sticky wicket. Earlier, on November 17, an all-time high 77.15% voter turnout (78.21% males and 76.03% females) was reported, which was 1.52% higher than 2018 polls. Women outvoted men on 34 out of the 230 seats (the number was 51 seats in 2018 polls), which boosted the BJP’s hopes at least in those seats on the back of the Ladli Behna Yojana, which is benefiting 1.31 crore financially weak women across the state. On the other hand, the Congress is upbeat about its poll prospects, on the back of its prime poll guarantees (particularly old pension scheme for government employees, Rs 1500 monthly aid to women, caste census, resumption of farm loan waiver, electricity related sops and attractive promises to youngsters). The grand old party is also confident of getting the support of first-time and young voters over the lack of jobs and corruption, besides a general mood of change among the voters. In the 2018 assembly polls, the Congress, which was the single largest party with 114 seats (116 is the simple majority mark in the 230-member Vidhan Sabha), had formed the government with the support of seven independent, BSP and SP MLAs after 15 years in MP. The Congress had polled 40.89% votes to win 114 seats (4.60% positive swing), while the BJP despite polling a slightly higher 41.02% votes (3.86% negative swing) could win 109 seats only. However, the Kamal Nath-led regime was toppled in just 15 months, due to the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs led by their leader Jyotiraditya Scindia in March 2020, paving the way for the return of another Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP regime to power. In the 2018 polls, the Congress had performed exceedingly well in Gwalior-Chambal, Mahakoshal and Malwa-Nimar regions, but failed to win in Vindhya, central MP and Bundelkhand regions. However, the inputs from ground zero this time suggest that while the BJP may improve in Malwa-Nimar region (the region has maximum 66 seats) and Mahakoshal region, it may suffer setbacks in the Bundelkhand and Vindhya regions and may not be able to make major gains in the Gwalior-Chambal region. Even in its traditional stronghold of central MP, the ruling party may not perform as per expectations. ALSO READ | Madhya Pradesh: Poll candidates congregate for divine intervention (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)