BJP sweeps Hindi heartland, Congress surges in Telangana

BJP routs Congress in M.P., retains power with a brute majority; Congress loses Rajasthan as State sticks to trend of voting out incumbent; saffron party proves pollsters wrong, shocks Congress in Chhattisgarh; Congress wrests Telangana, denies BRS a hat-trick in the youngest State

December 03, 2023 09:10 pm | Updated 09:27 pm IST - New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on December 3, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on December 3, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Trouncing the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh, the BJP consolidated its position in the Hindi heartland, while the Congress unseated Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in Telangana, as results of the Assembly election to the four States were announced on December 3. The BJP finished third in Telangana.

With these results, the BJP has 12 Chief Ministers and the Congress three.

The BJP had lost all the three northern States in 2018 but toppled the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, to return to power in 2020. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the BJP’s victory. “This victory is of the mantra of ‘sabka saath, sabka vishwas and sabka prayas’ given by PM Modi,” Ms. Raje said.

“Today’s election results have proved that the days of appeasement and caste politics are over,” Home Minister Amit Shah posted on X (formerly Twitter). Mr. Modi thanked party workers for “tirelessly” highlighting “our development agenda among the people.” The BJP faced the election without a CM face and its campaign was largely built around Mr. Modi in all the States. “The results… indicate that the people of India are firmly with politics of good governance and development,” he said.

The BJP won two of every three seats in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and three of every five in Rajasthan. The Congress crumbled in Madhya Pradesh where it hoped to gain from anti-incumbency, which turned out to be non-existent. In Chhattisgarh, Congress’s social engineering and welfare politics could not fend off the storm of corruption allegations laced with religious symbolism that the BJP unleashed. “They don’t even spare the name of Mahadev,” Mr. Modi had said referencing an online betting scam that the Enforcement Directorate had linked to outgoing Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in a public statement in the midst of the campaign.

In Rajasthan, CM Ashok Gehlot’s sprightly campaign fell short in the face of strong anti-incumbency against Congress MLAs. The State stuck to its pattern of voting out the incumbent government. “We thought we would form government based on our schemes and promises,” Mr. Gehlot said after the defeat.

Conceding defeat in the three States, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who had spearheaded the party campaign, said the “battle of ideology would continue”. Mr. Gandhi thanked the people of Telangana, where several leaders attributed the party’s victory to his Bharat Jodo Yatra that was received well, while Mr. Modi pledged that the BJP would continue to build its presence in the State. The BJP doubled its vote share in the State and won eight seats compared to one in the last Assembly election, positioning it as a more consequential player in the State. The BRS’s hopes of a third term were dashed in Telangana, as public mood in the State took a turn in favour of the Congress since March, when the party won an impressive victory in neighbouring Karnataka. BRS supremo K. Chandrashekhar Rao went incommunicado after the results while his son and Cabinet colleague K.T. Rama Rao said the party would analyse them.

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