In Madhya Pradesh, modest performance, rich harvest

Voters seem to have chosen the BJP over the Congress despite varying levels dissatisfaction over of its performance

December 07, 2023 02:13 am | Updated 02:13 am IST

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and State BJP president V.D. Sharma. File

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and State BJP president V.D. Sharma. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Voter assessment of a government’s performance is often a mixed bag. However popular a government may be, voters will have some disappointments with it. Such disappointments sometimes culminate in an overall negative assessment and sometimes voters offer a positive assessment in spite of some disappointments. This is clearly evident in the case of Madhya Pradesh where voters did point to the limitations of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government and yet felt generally satisfied with its performance and thus voted for retaining the same party in power.

Curiously, a government that yet again returned to power could not easily be identified by the voters for specific achievements. When asked to name a particular achievement of the BJP government in the State that they ‘liked the most’, the response rate was very meagre with voters coming up with general responses such as development etc (Table 1). However, those who did list such achievements voted handsomely for the BJP; while those who mentioned specific achievements did not necessarily vote for the BJP. In contrast, when specifically asked if inflation and unemployment have increased, a large proportion of voters agreed that these have indeed increased while there is not much progress on the front of establishing new industries (Table 2).

What really helped the BJP government was the fact that despite being disappointed about the performance of the government in certain matters, voters did not punish the government—large numbers of the disappointed still voted for BJP (Table 3). What helped the BJP the most was an overall sense of satisfaction with both the State government (six in every ten were more or less satisfied) and the Central government (more than seven in every ten being more or less satisfied). This general satisfaction converted into votes in a very large proportion, as Tables four and five show.

An unmistakable conclusion is that despite its performance not being extraordinary, the voters had decided to choose BJP over the Congress—probably for reasons explained in other articles along with this.

(Suhas Palshikar taught political science and is the chief editor of Studies in Indian Politics)

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