Madhya Pradesh 2018

Analysis: Congress benefits from going solo in Madhya Pradesh

Win reinforces Rahul’s leadership

Much had been written about the need for the Congress to ally with the BSP to defeat the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, some predicting that the grand old party had shot itself in the foot by not being able to tie up with Mayawati.

However, the Congress could sweep Chhattisgarh alone — an alliance between the BSP and Ajit Jogi notwthstanding — and almost reached the majority mark in MP.

The Congress bagged 113 out of 230 seats with 40.9% votes in MP while the BSP won two seats with 5% of the votes. In 2013, the BSP had bagged four seats and secured 6.3% votes.

Limited influence

The BSP has had zones of influence in the Chambal and Baghelkhand regions of the State.

Following the declaration of results, Ms. Mayawati promptly declared her support for the Congress.

When Ms Mayawati had announced her own candidates for the state polls, Congress leaders had said her demand for 50 seats in the State was tantamount to punching far above her weight.

“Had the Congress agreed to give the BSP 50 seats, the BSP would have done well but the Congress would have lost both vote share and seats, and its seat share would probably have been below the BJP, even if the alliance would have won a majority,” says political analyst Sajjan Kumar, who toured MP for more than a month. “A bolstered BSP would have meant bargaining for a grand alliance seat sharing in Uttar Pradesh in 2019 would have become tougher. A victory in alliance would also have denied Congress workers the self-belief that a direct victory brings,” he added.

Dr. Kumar also has a more nuanced point: “The present election has seen a farmers' identity emerge in MP, due to agriculture not remaining profitable. This is to the advantage of the Congress. Victory in alliance with the BSP would have brought the faultline between Dalits and Hindutva to the fore, and identity politics remains a weak area for the Congress.”

It is also unknown whether upper castes and OBCs would have voted for BSP candidates in large numbers, given the fact that there was an undercurrent of polarisation over the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in the State.

A straight victory has enthused not just Congress workers but also established party president Rahul Gandhi’s ability to deliver when in a direct fight with the ruling BJP.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 12:23:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/madhya-pradesh-assembly-elections-2018/analysis-congress-benefits-from-going-solo-in-madhya-pradesh/article25745814.ece

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