New Delhi: An analysis by ThePrint has found that out of 230 assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh held in the 2018 elections, every fifth seat was decided by a victory margin of less than three percent. This indicates that factional fighting within the ruling BJP may affect its prospects in the upcoming elections in the state.
In 2018, the Congress had won 114 seats in Madhya Pradesh, two short of the majority, and proceeded to form the government under Kamal Nath with the help of independents – only two years after a rebellion led by then party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia. Due to this the government fell and 22 MLAs joined BJP.
BJP had won 109 seats in the 2018 elections and in 2020 formed the government under the leadership of Shivraj Singh Chouhan with the support of Scindia faction.
Of the 46 MLAs who won with a vote margin of less than three percent in 2018, 23 were from BJP and 20 from Congress. Three other seats were won by two independent candidates and one BSP candidate by very small margins. BJP was runner up on all three.
There was to be a direct contest between the two national parties on 41 out of 46 seats. Of the 23 seats won by BJP, BSP candidates were runners-up on two (Gwalior Rural and Devtalab).
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Further, of the 46 MLAs who won by close margins, 17 won with less than 1 per cent vote share, 13 MLAs whose victory margin was 1-2 per cent vote share and another 16 won with just 2-3 per cent vote share, As ThePrint’s analysis revealed.
BJP and Congress leaders who spoke to ThePrint said special attention was being given to seats lost by close margins.
Speaking about seats won by razor-thin margins, political analyst and author Rashid Kidwai told ThePrint: “In Madhya Pradesh, the margins have generally been close. A difference of 2 percent usually decides who is the winner and loser. “In fact, in 2018, BJP was slightly ahead of Congress in terms of total votes.”
He said that BJP will need a united House in Madhya Pradesh and Chief Minister Chouhan definitely cannot be ignored.
In the past in Madhya Pradesh, BJP has had many veteran leaders like Uma Bharti and late Sundar Lal Patwa, under whose leadership it got its biggest victory, but only under the leadership of Chauhan has the party won elections continuously.
Chouhan has been the face of the BJP in the state since 2005, when he became the CM for the first time and remained in the post till 2018. After a short hiatus, he came back in 2020.
However, it is believed that he has recently fallen out of favor with the BJP high command.
While he had led the Jan Ashirwad Yatra in the state before the 2018 elections, the BJP this time did not make Chouhan the sole face of the yatra, bringing forward other leaders as well.
The BJP has also said that it will contest this year’s Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections under collective leadership, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the face of the party in the state.
With the high command not projecting Chouhan as the CM face, at least half a dozen other leaders are struggling to project themselves as alternatives, and the state unit of the BJP is rife with rivalry.
A divided House can create problems for the party on those seats which were won or lost by close margins in 2018.
Speaking about the seats that saw close contests, BJP state vice president Jitu Jiraati told ThePrint that a different strategy has been adopted on each seat and the mistakes of 2018 will not be repeated in this election.
Referring to the seats which the BJP lost by close margins, Jirati said the party had (last month) released its first list of 39 candidates for the seats which it had lost and this showed that it had a strong hold on these seats. Is focused.
He said, “There is special focus on the seats lost by close margins. We have already declared 39 seats four months ago. Our candidates are already working. Our program is going on there.”
Jitu Jiraati further said, “We had lost all these 39 seats. Even if we win 20 of them, it will be a big victory.”
Out of these 39 seats, BJP had lost on eight by close margins.
Denying any kind of factionalism in the party, Jirati said that the BJP high command will talk to all those who have not got tickets to avoid any resentment.
He said, “Look at the 39 tickets – it becomes clear that there is no faction. Because decisions are taken together with the central leadership. ,
Also read: Jyoti Mirdha, who left Congress and joined BJP, said – Congress is facing migration, there is a need for introspection.
‘The problem is having too many candidates’
For BJP, the contest in 2018 had become close even on those seats which have been its stronghold for decades.
For example, the party has lost the Sarangpur seat only once since 1990 and has never lost the Ashta constituency since 1990. But in 2018, both the seats saw a tough fight with Congress candidates and the BJP managed to win by close margins – 2.9 per cent or 4,381 votes in Sarangpur and 2.93 per cent or 6,044 votes in Ashta.
In another case, BJP’s Rajendra Pandey, who had won the Javra seat in 2013 by a margin of 18.85 per cent or 30,000 votes, could win in 2018 by a margin of only 511 votes or 0.29 per cent. His 2013 victory was the largest for any candidate in more than five decades. ,
In the last elections, some BJP stalwarts came close to losing their seats. For example, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra, who is considered one of the contenders for the CM post, won his Datia seat by only 2,656 or 1.8 percent votes.
Ministers Ramkhelavan Patel (Amarpatan) and Bharat Singh Kushwaha (Gwalior Rural) won their seats by 3,747 votes (2.24 percent victory margin) and 1,517 votes (0.98 percent victory margin), respectively.
Moreover, BJP veteran Sharad Jain was defeated by Congress’ Vinay Saxena from Jabalpur North in 2018 by only 578 votes (0.41 per cent). Jain had earlier won the seat twice with a margin of more than 50 percent.
According to political analyst Kidwai, the BJP is facing the problem of surplus candidates, especially because it has received members from other parties.
He said, the problem (of seats with small margins) is where rebels, independents and small parties come into play. That’s why there is more restlessness in BJP than in Congress. In more than 40 constituencies, BJP has additional contenders,” he said.
In 2018, Congress got a close victory on 20 seats in Madhya Pradesh.
These include the name of first-time MLA Praveen Pathak, who defeated former BJP minister Narayan Singh Kushwaha in Gwalior South by just 121 votes (0.08 percent).
Hardeep Singh Dung, now a minister in the Chouhan government, won the Suwasra seat by a margin of 350 (or 0.17 per cent) votes. Another veteran Congress leader and Pichor MLA since 1993 is K.P. Singh won his seat for the first time in 2018 by less than 5,000 votes.
Of the 22 Congress MLAs who joined the BJP in 2020, half a dozen had won their seats by close margins in the last elections.
In the by-elections held after his defection, the victory margin of five out of six candidates increased. One Rahul Singh – who won from Damoh in 2018 by a margin of 800 votes – lost his seat to Congress candidate Ajay Kumar Tandon in the 2021 bypoll.
Chief spokesperson of Congress in Madhya Pradesh K.K. Speaking about the importance of close margin seats during government formation, Mishra told ThePrint: “(Our) government was toppled by the BJP using black money. He bought Scindia. Our focus is definitely on those seats which we lost by close margins. And then we have a different strategy for those seats which we are continuously losing or where we are weak.
Mishra believes that in the seats where the party won by a close margin, the anti-incumbency wave against the Chauhan government will help in increasing its victory margin.
He said, “All efforts are being made to win these seats with a big margin. “A lot will be covered by the anti-incumbency wave alone, this time we are going to form the government with two-thirds majority under the leadership of Kamal Nath ji.”
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